- Associated Press - Saturday, August 27, 2011

EDISON, N.J. — The way Dustin Johnson began the final round of The Barclays, he figured the only thing that could keep him from winning was the rain.

Needing a good start, he opened with back-to-back birdies. In a bunker for the first time all week, he holed the 85-foot shot for eagle on No. 4 to take the lead. Even a wild tee shot on the par-5 fifth landed in trampled grass with a clear shot at the green.

And then it started raining.

Hard.

The Barclays, already reduced to 54 holes because of Hurricane Irene, would have reverted to a 36-hole tournament if the rain arrived early and kept the third round Saturday from finishing, making Matt Kuchar the winner.

“The way I got started, I was hoping that we were going to keep on playing,” Johnson said.

The rain stopped. Johnson kept right on going.

He shot 29 on the front nine for the second straight day — he played the front in 17-under par for the week — to close with a 6-under 65 and win the opening FedEx Cup playoff event by two shots over Kuchar.

Johnson didn’t take the lead for good until Kuchar, who won The Barclays a year ago on a different course, three-putted from long range just off the green on consecutive holes on the back nine to make bogeys. He closed with a 68.

“I had the two basic three-putts and for me, that seems just very uncharacteristic,” Kuchar said. “I felt like I was just giving shots away.”

Johnson, who moved to No. 4 in the world, finished at 19-under 194 for his first win of the year and fifth of his career. He became the first player since Tiger Woods to go straight from college and win in each of his first four years on the PGA Tour.

When the season began in Kapalua, Johnson was asked what players should expect from Woods in 2011.Johnson replied that he hoped to see Woods play well, but that it “doesn’t bother me. I’m still going to win.”

Johnson just didn’t think it would take him until the first playoff event to hoist a trophy.

“I was never concerned — more frustrated than anything,” he said. “Because I felt like I played some really good golf this year, just have not been able to quite get it done. And it wasn’t that my golf game was bad. Just the putts I needed to make, I just had not been able to make them. And this week, I didn’t do anything crazy with the putter. I just made the ones I was supposed to.”

He became the first player since Phil Mickelson to win two 54-hole events. Mickelson won the rain-shortened BellSouth Classic in 2000 and 2005. Johnson previously won the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 2009 when the final round Sunday was washed out.

Story Continues →