Zach Johnson kisses the trophy after winning the BMW Championship on Monday, which helped him rise from 54th to 12th in the FedEx Cup standings. (Reuters)
LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Zach Johnson fired a bogey-free 65 in Monday’s final round to win the weather-delayed BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club and move into great position for the Tour Championship.
Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion, used a late charge to finish at 16-under for a two-stroke victory over fellow American Nick Watney, who shot 64 on the rain-softened course in the penultimate event of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Lifted by clutch birdie putts at the 16th and 17th holes, Johnson moved to fourth from 27th on the points list going into this week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta, where the overall winner of the four-event series pockets a $10 million bonus.
The top five in the standings among the 30 players on the points list that qualified for the season-ending event are assured of winning the FedEx Cup with a victory at East Lake.
Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson of Sweden and Australian Adam Scott top the standings with Matt Kuchar holding the fifth spot.
It was the 10th career PGA title for Johnson, who has yet to win in back-to-back weeks during his 10 years on the tour.
“Frankly, I’m going to have to forget about this week,” he said about his approach to winning the Tour Championship.
“I’m going to have to take Atlanta for Atlanta and just play. East Lake is not Conway Farms. It is a beast. It’s a classic and a challenge that myself and all my peers get juiced up for.”
Johnson made three birdies on the outward nine and then pulled away with a slick downhill 20-foot birdie putt from just off the green at the 16th and followed it with a 13-foot birdie on the next hole to build a two-shot advantage.
Watney was already in the clubhouse after his brilliant round that moved him to 12th on the points list after beginning the tournament outside the Tour Championship field in 34th place in the FedEx standings.
Jim Furyk, who surged into early command of the tournament with a second-round 59, led by two shots after a birdie at the 10th took him to 15 under par, but three late bogeys in gusting winds dropped him to a level-par 71 for third place at 13-under 271.
For Furyk it was the sixth time since his last victory at the 2010 Tour Championship to clinch the FedExCup title that he has failed to win after holding the 54-hole lead of an event.
“I hit the ball plenty good enough, but I didn’t make the putts when I needed to,” said Furyk, who began to round with a one-shot lead.
Sharing the lead with playing partner Steve Stricker during the round, Furyk said they both suffered from the same fate.