By DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer
JERSEY CITY, NJ (AP) – A short memory is one of Dustin Johnson’s greatest assets, considering all of the gruesome circumstances he has endured on the golf course over the years.
That is not to say that he forgets everything.
Johnson remembered in great detail his debut in the FedEx Cup Playoffs in 2008. The format was different then, with 144 players qualifying for the first event and the field shrinking to 120 for the next round. Johnson was number 117 and felt a rare sense of urgency.
“I actually remember having about four feet on the 36th hole to make the cut to the number, which would have got me into the next week. And I shod it with horseshoes and missed the cut, ”he said on Wednesday. “So I had three weeks off.”
The pressure remained as the fall of 2008 was a time for players to land in the top 125 money lists in order to keep their PGA Tour tickets. Johnson was number 128 when he won the first of 24 victories on the PGA Tour at Turning Stone.
Johnson is not where he expected it to be as the FedEx Cup playoffs begin Thursday with The Northern Trust at Liberty National. Nor does he feel a great urgency.
He’s No. 17 in the FedEx Cup, a product of the fact that he hasn’t won the PGA Tour since the Masters last November – that counts for this season – and is rarely in competition.
“Of course I need a couple of weeks here,” he said.
The 124-man field at Liberty National – Louis Oosthuizen in 8th is sitting out to rest a sore neck – will be reduced to the top 70 in the FedEx Cup qualifying for next week outside of Baltimore, and then to the top 30 advance the Tour Championship.
Johnson only has to look at the past year to see how quickly it can change. It was ranked 15th in the FedEx Cup a year ago when the switch went wide.
He won the Northern Trust with 11 strokes at TPC Boston. He lost in a playoff at the BMW Championship when Jon Rahm made a 65-foot birdie putt on Olympia Fields. And with the staggered start in East Lake – seeded number 1, Johnson started at 10 under par – he eventually won the FedEx Cup and the bonus prize of $ 15 million.
At least he was in some form a year ago after finishing runner-up in the PGA championship two weeks earlier. But it’s clear that Johnson can show up without notice.
“As far as why? I can’t tell you why, ”he said. “Of course I know I’m a good player. I’ve been a really good player for a long time. So playing a few bad rounds doesn’t really bother me. … Every time, no matter how badly I play, it only takes one shot here or one shot there, where I have a nice feeling and everything turns. “
Collin Morikawa is the # 1 seed – he has already earned a $ 2 million bonus for running the FedEx Cup after the regular season – from his golf world title in March and his second major at the British Open in July.
Morikawa also draws on lessons from last year, just unlike Johnson.
He finished his first major in the PGA Championship, his second win of the year. Whether it was complacency or just got out of his routine, he was practically a no-show in the lucrative postseason.
Morikawa missed the cut in The Northern Trust and landed nine strokes behind at Olympia Fields. In the final ranking of the FedEx Cup, he had to be content with fifth place.
“I would have expected to play better, that my standards were higher just because I had won a PGA,” said Morikawa. “I saw golf a little differently than I should have, and I had to go back to what I did great, what I was good at, to play great golf.”
Jordan Spieth is the number 2 seed, followed by Patrick Cantlay, Harris English and Jon Rahm.
The currently more critical number is much lower on the list. JT Poston is at number 70, the cutoff for starting the next week. Anyone who misses the cut around 60th place – this is the only postseason event with a cut – is likely done for the season.
At the bottom, Chesson Hadley is 125th, so don’t expect a lot of stress there. He’s just happy to be here. Hadley was outside the top 125 last week when he made a hole-in-one in the final round of the Wyndham Championship, shot 62 and shared 15th place. This moved him one point to the last qualifying place for the FedEx Cup.
The advantage was more about keeping your full card than the $ 15 million bonus at the end of the playoffs.
“I play with house money,” said Hadley.
And he is already sure of real money. Just reaching the postseason is worth a $ 101,000 bonus if you finish last.
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