65-foot birdie putt on first playoff hole gives Rahm victory
Even with a pair of silver trophies in his possession afterward, Jon Rahm still couldn’t believe what happened Sunday in the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields. And he only saw half of it.
Rahm was on the range on the other side of the clubhouse, preparing for a playoff no one really expected, when Dustin Johnson rolled in a 45-foot putt down the ridge for a birdie on the 18th green to force a playoff.
Moments later, Rahm faced a putt even longer and more difficult on the 18th. He was just outside 65 feet and had to send the ball at nearly a 90-degree angle to the top of the ridge. From there, it was a replay of Johnson’s putt as it headed down the slope, kissed off the pin and disappeared into the cup.
‘‘I still can’t believe what just happened,’’ Rahm said.
Neither could Johnson, who was going for his second consecutive victory in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs.
‘‘I played an unbelievable putt to get in the playoff, and then Jon made an even more ridiculous putt on top of me,’’ said Johnson, who at least kept his No. 1 ranking in the world and in the playoffs.
The putts overshadowed a command performance by Rahm, who closed with a spectacular weekend — 4-under-par 66 on Saturday and 6-under 64 on Sunday — on a course that played like the toughest test in golf. His only bogey on the weekend came on the fifth hole Saturday, when he spaced out and picked up his ball from the green without marking it.
There was the 6-iron from 218 yards for his third shot on the par-5 15th after his tee shot went into the trees and barely came out, setting up a key birdie. There was his 30-foot birdie putt on the par-3 16th for a two-shot lead that Johnson erased with two birdies of his own. Then, of course, there was the winning putt.
‘‘That stretch of waiting for DJ, him making the putt, going in the playoff, me making the putt, then trying to stay mentally in it just in case he made the last putt, it’s been a roller coaster,’’ Rahm said. ‘‘But it’s so much fun.’’
Rahm said all he could think about on the 18th green in the playoff was finding a way to get to the next hole, knowing he had a putt from one end of the green to the other and Johnson had a 30-footer.
And then it was over. Rahm won for the second time this year and for the 11th time worldwide in his four years as a pro.
‘‘I think we all want the flashy finish, but maybe not the stress that comes with it,’’ Rahm said. ‘‘But I set out with myself to enjoy even the uncomfortable moments we had out there today. And, man, it was fun.’’
Rahm and third-round co-leader Johnson, who shot a 3-under 67, completed 72 holes of regulation at 4-under 276. That was two strokes better than 21-year-old Joaquin Niemann and Hideki Matsuyama.
Johnson will go into the Tour Championship in Atlanta as the
No. 1 seed, meaning he will start the chase for the $15 million prize at 10 under, two shots ahead of Rahm, who moved up seven spots to the No. 2 seed.
Tiger Woods missed all the action. He closed with a 1-over 71, making this the first time he was over par in all four rounds of a tournament since the Bridgestone Invitational in 2010. He finished tied for 51st at 11 over.
Jon Rahm reacts after making a 65-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole to defeat Dustin Johnson in the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club.