CHAMPIONS
Johnson Tops Spieth in Playoff Duel on Long Island August 28, 2017 By David Shefter, USGA

2016 U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson had every reason to smile after outdueling Jordan Spieth Sunday on Long Island. (USGA/John Mummert) 

Two U.S. Open champions dueling it out on Long Island. In a little less than 10 months, that would make for a tasty storyline for the 118th U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. On Sunday, some 64 miles to the west, two of the last three U.S. Open champions waged an epic back-nine battle at Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury in the first FedEx Cup Playoff event.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, the 2016 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont Country Club, outlasted the man who edged him by a stroke a year prior at Chambers Bay, Jordan Spieth, in a sudden-death playoff for the Northern Trust title.

The 33-year-old Johnson, who hadn’t won since beating Jon Rahm in the final match of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play on March 26 at Austin (Texas) Country Club, holed a 17-foot par putt on the 72nd hole for a final-round, 4-under 66 to force the playoff. He then ripped the longest drive of the week on the par-4 18th hole – the first playoff hole – to set up a 60-degree wedge approach to 4 feet for a winning birdie.

 “It was fun to be in the hunt again and know that my game is going to hold up under pressure,” said Johnson, who notched his fourth victory of the season. “I feel like the game is finally back in form like it was before the Masters.”

World No. 2 Spieth, meanwhile, seemed poised to claim his fourth victory of the season, and third since his dramatic playoff win in the Travelers Championship when he holed a bunker shot on the first playoff hole to defeat Daniel Berger. He began Sunday’s final round with a three-stroke cushion and built it to five strokes by holing a 30-foot birdie on No. 5. But then he began to unravel, beginning with his tee shot on the par-3 sixth that found the water hazard, resulting in a double bogey. Another two-stroke swing took place on nine, thanks to a Spieth three-putt bogey and Johnson’s 7-foot birdie.

That set the stage for their inward-nine duel.

“I thought that was a fun show,” said Spieth, who closed with a 69. “I was hoping it wasn't going to be that much fun. I didn't lose the tournament. He won it.”

Park Place

Reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion Sung Hyun Park added a second national championship of 2017 on Sunday with a come-from-behind victory in the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in Ottawa.

Park, 23, of the Republic of Korea, capped a final-round, 7-under-par 64 with a birdie on the 72nd hole for a two-stroke victory over countrywoman Mirim Lee.

The long-hitting Park had five birdies in an eight-hole stretch on Nos. 3-10, and also birdied the par-4 16th before her closing birdie on the par-5 18th. In July at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., Park carded a pair of 67s on the weekend for a two-stroke victory over 17-year-old Korean amateur Hye-Jin Choi.

“I can't think of anything. I can't believe this,” said Park, who finished at 13-under 271. “I think it was a perfect game today. Everything was. There were no mistakes today, and I think it was perfect.”

Past Women’s Open champions In Gee Chun (2015) and Cristie Kerr (2007) were among five players who tied for third at 10-under 274.

Big Promotion for Ridley

Last Wednesday, Fred Ridley, the 1975 U.S. Amateur champion, was named the next chairman of Augusta National Golf Club after current chairman Billy Payne announced he was resigning from his post effective Oct. 16. For the past six years, Ridley has served as the Competitions Chairman for the Masters Tournament.

Ridley, who competed in three Masters and a U.S. Open as an amateur, remains the most recent U.S. Amateur champion not to have turned professional. The 1977 USA Walker Cup competitor and two-time captain (1987 and 1989) instead chose a law career, one in which led him to serving the game in an administrative capacity. Ridley, 65, of Tampa, Fla., served as president of the USGA from 2004-05 and later captained the 2010 USA World Amateur Team to a third-place finish in Argentina.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.

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