Top-ranked Dustin Johnson says he has gotten over a playoff loss to Jon Rahm as he takes a two-stroke lead into Friday’s opening round of the US PGA Tour Championship.
The 36-year-old American won the FedEx Cup season points race to earn a 10-under par score at the start of the last four rounds of the 2019-20 season at East Lake in Atlanta.
“I’ve had a whole mixed bag of finishes at East Lake. I either play really well or really terrible,” Johnson said Thursday.
“I feel like I’m going to play it well this time around.”
Johnson is chasing a $ 15 million top playoff prize in a showdown that likely will decide the PGA Player of the Year award as well.
“The game is in very good form,” Johnson said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in every part of my game. You’ve got to do everything well if you want to succeed around this place.”
Johnson’s position was good for a two-stroke lead over world number two Rahm, Johnson’s Friday last-pair playing partner. The Spaniard sank a 66-yard putt on the first extra hole to win a playoff at Sunday’s BMW Championship.
“Being in the number one position before we start is a little bit of an advantage,” Johnson said. “It’s not like I’ve got a two-shot lead going into the final round.
“I’m still going to have to go out and play some good golf for four rounds if I want to be a FedEx champion at the end.”
Johnson’s points lead gives him a margin of up to 10 strokes on every rival in the field of 30, a staggered start that means whoever wins the tournament collects the playoff crown.
Johnson said he had put the playoff disappointment behind him by the time he returned home to see his family the same night.
“It’s just something that’s going to happen,” Johnson said. “Jon made a great putt. I didn’t do anything wrong to lose the playoff so it was easy to get over.”
Johnson said he feels Player of the Year will be decided this week with himself, Rahm, Webb Simpson and Collin Morikawa each owning two wins this season.
“I think this week will help decide that,” he said. “Right now, it’s really close. I think this week could help solidify Player of the Year.”
Johnson had no specific advice for new father Rory McIlroy, the world number four from Northern Ireland who starts seven adrift of Johnson.
“For me, it was really easy. Once you have a family, golf is definitely not the most important. It’s your family,” Johnson said.
“It puts things in perspective. I love golf. It’s my job. I enjoy it. Once you have a family, all your priorities change, but in a good way, a very good way.”