He struggled in his next two starts, shooting 80-80 at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide and withdrawing from the 3M Open after a tough start.
He’s responded with some of the best golf of his career, however.
This is the fourth consecutive start where Johnson has held the 54-hole lead. He’s led entering the final round of all three FedExCup Playoffs events and the PGA Championship, where he finished second.
“I’m comfortable in the position I’m in,” he said. “Even the two Sundays where I didn’t win, I felt like I played really solid rounds. Just a couple guys played a little bit better.
“Tomorrow is more of the same. I just need to go out and focus on what I’m doing and try and shoot the lowest score I can.”
This is the second time Johnson has taken a five-shot lead into the final round in this year’s FedExCup Playoffs. He also did it two weeks ago at the Playoffs opener, THE NORTHERN TRUST. A Sunday 63 at TPC Boston gave him an 11-shot victory and the second-lowest score in PGA TOUR history.
He’s potentially one improbable putt from a clean sweep of the three Playoffs events. Rahm holed a 66-footer on the first hole of their playoff at the BMW Championship.
Johnson struggled in the first two rounds at East Lake, though. He was last in the field in driving accuracy through two rounds, hitting just 25% of the fairways. He hit more fairways Sunday than in the first two rounds combined.
“If I’m driving it in the fairway, the game is much easier,” Johnson said. “It’s never easy, but the game is much easier if you do drive it in the fairway.”
He had seven birdies in the third round, against just a single bogey. If he can play like this again Monday, he may not need to work too hard on Labor Day.
“If he does what he normally does, it’s going to be almost impossible to catch him,” Schauffele said. “If I birdie the first three holes it’s not going to faze him. It’s DJ.”
Johnson is one day closer to his first FedExCup. All because he started standing closer to the ball.