Sometimes golf can be predictable. Dustin Johnson was expected to make a charge on moving day Saturday at the Tournament Of Champions and that’s exactly what he did. Here’s how things panned out in the winds at the Plantation Course:
Dustin Johnson took his time then made a back-nine move that overtook the 36-hole leaders. Shot of the day came on the par four 12th. “I had 60 yards to the front — I hit it perfect,” was how D.J. described his wedge shot that found its way into the bottom of the cup for an eagle two. He added three more birdies after that, shot 66 and secured the 54-hole lead at 16-under par.
Brian Harman will play with Johnson on Sunday. He’s a foot shorter than D.J. and will start two shots behind. He finished strong after making back-to-back bogeys on the back nine that cost him the lead. He still managed to shot four-under par (69) to get to 14-under.
Marc Leishman, the overnight co-leader with Harman was nowhere to be seen by the end of the day Saturday. Nothing went right for the big Aussie and his 76 left him a whopping nine shots behind Johnson going into Sunday.
Jon Rahm will be one of those in pursuit of Johnson over the final 18. He tied D.J. for low round of the day (66) and is alone at 12-under par. “If you’re able to get to the 14th hole under par, you can make a run,” Rahm said of the Plantation course’s closing holes. Note that Rahm has come from behind in his last two wins.
Rickie Fowler’s 68 got him to 11-under par but he knows he’ll have to go low on Sunday. “He’s not someone you expect to move backwards,” he said of the leader. “I’d like to go bogey-free like I did today but make a few more birdies.”
Jason Dufner’s year is off to a good start. He shot 69 and found himself at 11-under, tied with Fowler for fourth.
Fowler was right, no one expects Dustin Johnson to back up on Sunday.
“I have a good game plan around here and I’ll just stick to the game plan,” Johnson said of his final round strategy. Johnson did blow a big lead late last year at the HSBC event in China when Justin Rose overtook him. “It was kind of a fluke day,” Johnson recalled. “I had a new set of irons and I wasn’t that used to them at the time. Since then, I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with them.”