Dustin Johnson made the cut by a single shot Saturday afternoon at 1-over par in the 15th Wells Fargo Championship at Eagle Point Golf Club.
By Sunday afternoon he was sitting in the clubhouse tied for the lead, watching on television to see if Brian Harman would make a 28-foot birdie putt on the 18th green for the win and deny him an opportunity in a playoff.
It only took Johnson a couple rounds to regain his world No. 1 form, and he blistered Eagle Point with consecutive rounds of 5-under 67 to make a run at his fourth consecutive win on the PGA Tour.
Johnson tied for second behind Harman with Pat Perez at 9-under 279.
“I can’t believe it but I can,” Perez said of Johnson’s weekend. “He made the cut on the number and he just turns it on. That guy is incredible. He’s playing phenomenal right now.”
Johnson won three straight PGA Tour starts, including a pair of World Golf Championships, before injuring his back on the eve of the Masters and taking the past four weeks to recover. He played and practiced very little before arriving at Eagle Point.
The Coastal Carolina alumnus made 11 birdies and just one bogey – on the eighth hole Sunday – in the final two rounds.
“The first couple days I didn’t play that bad I was just sort of rusty,” Johnson said. “I had a good practice session before the third round and since then I feel like my swing has come back and I’ve got my feel back.
“I really played nicely on Saturday and Sunday and so I’m happy with where the game is going into [The Players] next week. I’ve still got a lot of practice to do to get ready for next week, but I’m looking forward to it.”
After missing a 9-foot birdie putt on the first hole, Johnson began his run at the lead with a 18-footer birdie putt on the second hole, and he birdied the par-5 fourth and sixth holes with chips to 9 and 7 feet to pull within a shot of the lead at 7 under.
He bogeyed the eighth hole do drop two back at the time, overshooting the green from the left trees and missing a 17-foot putt. Johnson birdied the par-5 12th after his second shot rolled onto and off the green and stopped a foot from a water hazard to the right, and he chipped to 4 feet. “It was a good break that it didn’t go in the water and I made a good chip,” Johnson said.
He birdied the 13th with a 6-foot putt, and after hitting a 343-yard drive on the par-5 18th hole, Johnson stood in the fairway with 216 yards to the front of the green and 244 yards to a middle-back pin.
“He tried to cut a 4-iron and just pulled it a little,” said his brother and caddie Austin Johnson. “The wind was hard off the right so we figured if we needed it the wind would help it, and we wanted to get a look at a [eagle] 3.”
Johnson missed the green to the left, chipped to 15 feet and made the putt to temporarily take the lead before Perez matched it and Harman birdied the final two holes to win.
“Most of my birdies were very close putts, but I made a nice putt there on the last hole to finish,” Johnson said. “It was nice to finish with a birdie on 18 to give me some kind of chance.”
Johnson was trying to join Byron Nelson, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan and Jack Burke Jr. as the only players with at least four straight PGA Tour victories.