Paul Anthony Arco

The Takeaway

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Storm Trooper

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The only thing that might have stopped Dustin Johnson from winning The Barclays was the threat of Hurricane Irene.

And that didn't stop him, either.

Johnson closed with a 6-under 65 Saturday to finish 19-under 194 to beat Matt Kuchar by two strokes in the first round of the playoffs. He shot 29 on the front nine for the second straight day and played the front in 17-under par for the week.

The Barclays was shortened to 54 holes due to the approaching hurricane, which is rocking the East Coast. If the tournament had reverted to a 36-hole tournament, the winner would have been the defending champion Kuchar, who led after two rounds.

Brandt Snedeker and Vijay Singh finished 16-under 197 for T3. Jonathan Byrd was fifth one stroke back. Singh, who traveled to Germany for treatment on his bad back, has gone 67 starts on the PGA Tour since his last win at the BMW Championship three years ago.

Soft conditions meant good scores at a Plainfield Country Club that's seen10 inches of rain in the last two weeks.

How good was Johnson? Good enough to hole out from 85 feet for eagle on No. 4 to take the lead. He also knocked down a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 7. Johnson's getting good at winning 54-hole tournaments, too. He won the rain-shortened Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 2009.

It was the first win of the year and fifth of his career for Johnson, who is now No. 4 in the world, and fully exempt through 2014. It's his sixth top-10 finish of the year. From the most irrelevant-stat-category, Johnson became the first golfer since Tiger Woods to go straight from college to win in each of his first four years.

More importantly, he's on top of the FedEx Cup standings in the four-tournament event. At stake is the $10 million grand prize.

Of course, Johnson isn't the only one moving on to the second playoff next week at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Eight players did well enough to move inside the top 100 in the FedEx Cup standings and advance to the second playoff event next week which will be played outside of Boston.

Good thing William McGirt didn't follow through on his plans to play Nationwide Tour events in Tennessee and Idaho.

McGirt, the last of 125 players who reached the playoffs, birdied No. 17 with a little help from his wife to move to No. 96. Since the scoreboards were taken down the night before due to the pending hurricane, Mrs. McGirt signaled "101," indicating her husband need to step it up. He did.

Ian Poulter birdied four of his last five holes for a 64 to advance. Padraig Harrington jumped from No. 124 to No. 80 with a T13. Ernie Els, the only repeat winner of The Barclays, moved from No. 118 to No. 99.

John Merrick, Bill Lunde, Chris Stroud and Camilo Villegas were the others who moved into the top 100.

It helped that only 72 players made the cut at 4-under 138. Try telling that to the 16 players who finished at 139 and missed out, including Ricky Barnes, Davis Love III, and Chris Kirk.

Kuchar, the highest-ranked player in the FedExCup standings without a 2011 win, caught Johnson with a birdie on No. 11, but couldn't ride the momentum. He three-putted on back-to-back holes to finish with a 68.

Stray Shots

Justin Rose finished T6, his fourth top-10 finish of the year … What happened to Harrison Frazar? One shot off the lead after the first round, he followed it up with a 69 and 74 and finished T58 … Adam Scott was looking into move into the top five in FedExCup standings, but dropped to No. 23 thanks to a final-round 76 and T67 for the tournament … Steve Stricker dropped from No. 2 to No. 7 in the FedExCup standings after a T24 … Notables who missed the cut include: Jason Dufner, David Toms, Bubba Watson, Tommy Gainey, Zach Johnson, Keegan Bradley and Lucas GloverPat Perez (No. 52) withdrew after a first-round 79. No reason was given. Chris Couch (No. 78) withdrew because of a back injury after shooting a 77. Stuart Appleby (No. 113) pulled out with a bad back after shooting 81, and Steve Flesch (121) withdrew due to a sinus headache … Looking for some golf on Sunday? UCLA sophomore Patrick Cantlay, who had a memorable summer on the PGA TOUR, will face Kelly Kraft for the U.S. Amateur championship. Cantlay is the No. 1-ranked amateur. He and Kraft will play 36 holes on Sunday … Ignacio Garrido and Mark Foster are tied for the lead after three rounds at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles. Thomas Bjorn, Anthony Kang and three others are 8 under. Kang is No. 170 in the Race to Dubai standings and needs a high finish at Gleneagles to keep his card for next season.

Paul Anthony Arco is a freelance writer and contributor to He is host of The Golf Show!, which airs Saturday mornings on WNTA 1330 AM ( in Rockford, Ill. Paul can be reached at
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