EDISON, N.J. -- Sundays are generally not Dustin Johnson's best times on the golf course. So it was just as well for him that The Barclays ended early Saturday, and it was no big surprise that he played so well and won.
Johnson had failed when he led the U.S. Open on a Sunday last year. His most embarrassing moment occurred Sunday at the 2010 PGA, when he missed out on a playoff because he inadvertently grounded his club in a bunker. When he was in contention at the British Open this year, he hit a ball out of bounds Sunday.
All of that fit the template Saturday at The Barclays, shortened to 54 holes because of Hurricane Irene. Johnson, 27, shot a second consecutive front-nine 29 at Plainfield Country Club, then made nine pars for a 65, finished at 19 under and defeated defending champion Matt Kuchar by two strokes. Except that Johnson didn't see it as a Saturday thing.
"Today," he said, "was Sunday."
He meant that it wasn't like the 2009 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the last 54-hole PGA Tour event before Saturday, which also was won by Johnson. Back then, he didn't know his third round was going to be his last. This time, everyone knew that Saturday was, as Johnson called it, "do or die."
Everyone was hunting even harder for birdies on a rain-softened, birdie-friendly course. Johnson did Kuchar and the field one better, making an eagle 2 from a bunker on No. 4. "Walking into it, I was like, 'This is the first time I've been in a bunker all week,' " Johnson said. "I kind of didn't know what to expect, my bunker play this year has not been superb. But to me, it seems like the harder the shot, the better I hit it."
That set the tone for his day and changed the tone for his year, which had not been a proverbial month of Sundays. It had been winless and disappointing. "I've felt like I've been close all year and I just haven't been able to get it done," he said, citing his putting, which was much better in this first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Now, instead of being an underachiever, Johnson again looks like an up-and-comer. He is the first since Tiger Woods to have come out of college and win in each of his first four years on tour. He is the only American golfer in his 20s to have five wins.
"If you could have anything as a golfer, if you could have any kind of trait, it would be driving it as long and as accurately as he does," Kuchar said. "He can just make golf look so easy. I think when you drive it that long and that straight, it's hard to play bad golf."
Kuchar had been tied with Johnson through 11 holes, but bogeyed 12 and 13 and never made another birdie. He still was pleased with his week, and like other golfers, ready to hit the road before the storm arrived (he had scrapped plans for a few days with friends in the Hamptons).
Johnson was headed home to South Carolina for a few days before next week's tournament outside Boston. "As soon as I leave right from this seat right here, I'm going to the airport," said a golfer who again seemed like he was going places.
Kuchar calls TeixeiraMatt Kuchar stays in touch with his Georgia Tech buddy, Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. Recently, he sheepishly called to ask for tickets. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples wanted to go to a game and knew Kuchar had a contact. "I don't usually like to do that," Kuchar said, "but it was for Fred Couples."