Dustin Johnson seals $21 million jackpot with a kiss with Paulina Gretzky

Dustin Johnson’s FedEx Cup victory cemented his status as one of the finest players of the modern era, but many believe the world number one will not be regarded as one of the game’s greats until he wins more majors.

Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka stoked the debate at last month’s US PGA Championship after predicting that third-round leader “DJ” Johnson could struggle to close out a second major title.

“A lot of the guys on the leaderboard, I don’t think have won (a major). I guess DJ has only won one,” Koepka said.

Johnson finished two strokes behind Collin Morikawa, the fifth time he had been runner-up in one of the big four.

But Koepka’s jab might have lit a fire under the usually laid-back Johnson. The last three weeks has seen Johnson steamroller an elite field to win the Northern Trust by 11 strokes at 30-under par, the second lowest total in tour history.

Seven days later he finished second at the BMW Championship, but only because Jon Rahm sank a 66-foot monster putt in a playoff.

Now he is back in the winner’s circle for the third time since the tour resumed in June, $21 million (AUD) richer.

“Obviously I’m playing very well now,” Johnson said, before adding ominously. “I feel like I can play better, though.”

With the US Open at Winged Foot 10 days away and six majors to come in the next 10 months, red-hot Johnson is going to have lots of chances to improve his major record.

Being Johnson’s better half has more advantages than those giant winner’s cheques too.

Paulina Gretzky watched Johnson seal his victory from the course at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. While Gretzky had a front-row seat to Johnson’s $15 million win, other members of her family couldn’t see it at all.

Paulina Gretzky walks to congratulate Dustin Johnson. Picture: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFPSource:AFP

They celebrate on the 18th green. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

And seal it with a kiss. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

Johnson capped a two-under-par 68 with a birdie at the last to seal a three-stroke victory and earn the $21 million FedEx Cup playoff title.

Johnson finished with a 21-under-par total at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta — three shots clear of Americans Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas.

“I hit the fairways when I needed to coming down the stretch,” said Johnson, who started the day with a five-shot lead.

He rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt at the third, a 10-footer at the fifth and a three-footer at the sixth.

But bogeys at the seventh and eighth — where he was in a fairway bunker — opened the door just a crack for Thomas and Schauffele.

Neither could do enough, never getting the deficit below two strokes as Johnson parred nine straight.

That run included a 21-foot par-saving putt at the 13th, where he was in the left rough off the tee and right of the green and hit a poor chip but drained the putt to push his lead back to three over Schauffele.

“He made that putt, which I didn’t,” said Schauffele, who bogeyed the 13th. “That was a pinnacle moment, I think.”

The 36-year-old claimed his 23rd US PGA Tour title and his third since the tour resumed in June after a three-month coronavirus shutdown.


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