Saturday, February 17, 2018
Golf

Dustin Johnson takes stranglehold on PGA's BMW Championship

CARMEL, Ind. — Dustin Johnson plays a different game than anyone else, and he wanted to keep it that way.

Right down to his putter.

The U.S. Open champion made a late change just before starting the BMW Championship, and so far he has no complaints. Johnson finished with four birdies over the last five holes Saturday on soggy Crooked Stick for 4-under 68, stretching his lead to three shots going into today's final round.

He is smashing his driver long and straight, just like always. He is hitting wedges good enough for multiple birdie chances.

And now the putts are going in.

"The strength this week has been putting," Johnson said. "I'm rolling it really nicely. Even the putts that I'm missing still look like they're going in."

He was particular about the change, though.

Johnson decided to switch to the TaylorMade Spider. But right before he teed off in the opening round, he was bothered by one aspect of his new weapon. It was red, just like the model world No. 1 Jason Day uses. He recalled that his brother and caddie, Austin, had a similar model.

"I was putting good with it and right before we were about to tee off on Thursday, I'm like, 'AJ, don't you have the same one in black?' And he says, 'Yeah.' And I said, 'Go get it.' I just didn't want to use the same putter Jason was — like, the exact same one. That was really the only reason I changed," Johnson said.

Eighteen birdies and one eagle putt later, Johnson was at 18-under 198 and closing in on his third victory of the year.

Paul Casey did his best to stay with him. Casey, coming off a runnerup finish on Labor Day at the TPC Boston, matched two of Johnson's birdies during his late run until he had to scramble for pars on the last two holes. He still managed a bogey-free 68 and will be in the final group today.

Johnson is going for his third victory of the year, which would move him to the top of the FedEx Cup going into the finale at the Tour Championship in two weeks.

Still in the mix was J.B. Holmes, who shot 68 and was four behind. Holmes at least is making a compelling case to be a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup when Davis Love announces three of his selections Monday. Holmes finished 10th in the U.S. standings.

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