NORTON, Mass. — Dark clouds gathered. Thunder rumbled. Lightning flashed on the horizon. Just as unsettling to his competition was seeing Dustin Johnson in complete control of his game with a performance worthy of his return to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
He was as close to unbeatable as he has ever been.
Johnson capped off his dominant week at The Northern Trust with an 8-under-par 63, finishing with a tap-in birdie in the dark after a storm delay for an 11-shot victory at TPC Boston. It was the largest margin of victory since Phil Mickelson won the 2006 AT&T Classic by 13 strokes at TPC Sugarloaf in the Atlanta area.
"The best I've ever seen him look," said Claude Harmon III, his swing coach, as he stood off the 18th green that was partially illuminated by a video board that flashed the scores of this astounding feat.
Johnson hit every green in regulation Sunday, and he missed only three greens over his last 54 holes, when he turned in rounds of 60, 64 and 63.
Johnson finished at 30-under 254, making him only the third player in PGA Tour history to finish at 30 under or better. He missed the record by one shot set by Ernie Els in the 2003 Mercedes Championship at Kapalua Resort, where Jordan Spieth finished 30 under in 2016.
Johnson at least holds the record on the mainland.
"I knew I was playing well, and I knew the guys were going to shoot low," Johnson said. "I was trying to get to 30 under. I've never shot 30 under in four rounds. Just something that I wanted to do."
That was about the only competition he faced.
Harris English, the former Baylor School and University of Georgia player, figured that out early when he trailed by five shots at the start of the final round, shot 32 on the front nine and fell seven behind.
"Kind of had my own tournament that I was playing," English said. "I mean, really, the goal starting today wasn't necessarily to win. It was to put myself in position to have a run in the FedEx Cup. That's why we're all here."
English did the job. With a bogey in the dark that didn't matter at the end, he shot a 69 to finish alone in second and moved to No. 6 in the FedEx Cup standings, securing his place among the top 30 who go to Atlanta's East Lake Golf Club for the Tour Championship in two weeks. English, who started the year with only partial status on the PGA Tour, earned $1,035,500 for his runner-up finish.
Louis Oosthuizen delivered, too, in what might have been the only drama Sunday. The 2010 British Open champion from South Africa was No. 99 in the standings and appeared to waste his opportunity when he was 4 over through 14 holes Sunday. He came to the par-5 18th needing a birdie, drove into the fairway, then had to wait more than an hour because of the storm delay.
He hit the green with a 3-iron, rolled the eagle putt four feet by the hole because he could barely see, then knocked in the birdie to move to No. 70 on the number. The top 70 in the FedEx field go to the BMW Championship, which starts Thursday at Olympia Fields Country Club near Chicago.
"Most happy 73 that I've had in a while," Oosthuizen said.
Keith Mitchell, another former Baylor and Georgia player, closed with a 70 and tied for 61st at 5 under, going from 112th to 105th in the standings. Former Baylor and Vanderbilt player Luke List, who missed the cut, went from 116th to 119th.
Neither will have to wait long for a new season. The PGA Tour's 2020-21 schedule cranks up Sept. 10 with the Safeway Open in California.
Johnson won for the 22nd time in his PGA Tour career, and he never made it look easier. He said his game felt as good as spring 2017, when he won three straight tournaments — the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles and two World Golf Championships — to first reach No. 1 in the world.
It was his fifth victory in a FedEx Cup playoff event, tied for most with Rory McIlroy.
Staked to a five-shot lead over English going into the final round, Johnson sent a towering 7-iron shot over the water to a front pin on the par-5 second, the ball settling eight feet next to the pin for an eagle. Two holes later, his 3-wood shot was placed perfectly in front of the fourth green for a simple up-and-down play for birdie.
It was like that all day. It was like that all tournament long.
On the 500-yard 12th hole, where on Saturday he hit a tight draw with a 6-iron shot to a foot from the cup, Johnson hit 6-iron with a slight fade to three feet away for another birdie.
All that was left was to see if he could top the 72-hole record of 253 set by Justin Thomas at the Sony Open in 2017. Johnson settled into a string of pars until the final hole, and he later said he didn't know what the record was.
"Next time," he said.
That's not unusual. During his peak run in 2017, he was poised to break the oldest 72-hole tournament record on the PGA Tour at Riviera, the 20-under score by Lanny Wadkins in 1985. Johnson was at 20 under with 12 holes to play, went into conservative mode and made three bogeys on his last 10 holes. He was unaware of that record, too, and wasn't bothered.
Johnson is more about trophies than records, and this trophy was never in doubt
"He can absolutely dismantle a golf course when he's on," said Kevin Kisner, who grew up playing junior golf in South Carolina with Johnson. "I've been watching it for 25 years. I'm pretty accustomed to it. When he's on, I just step to the side and try to add to my bank account."
Kisner did that part well. He closed with a 66, moving him to No. 23 in his bid to lock up a spot in the Tour Championship. He had said all week he wanted to take care of that at TPC Boston instead of having to deliver at Olympia Fields, a course he has never seen.
Robby Shelton closed with a 63, enough for him to be one of six players who moved into the top 70. The others were Oosthuizen, Harry Higgs, Alex Noren, Russell Henley and Jason Kokrak. Five of the six players knocked out missed the cut, including Phil Mickelson. The other was Denny McCarthy, who shot 73 on Sunday.
Tiger Woods opened with four straight birdies and had to settle for a 66 to tie for 58th. He fell to No. 57 in the FedEx Cup standings, in danger of missing the Tour Championship for the second straight year after winning it in 2018.
Jaeger closes well
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Curtis Luck won the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship for his first Korn Ferry Tour title, closing with a par round of 71 to finish at 11-under 273 and secure a one-stroke victory over three players.
The 24-year-old Australian birdied the 15th and 16th holes and parred the final two at Ohio State's Scarlet Course to stay ahead of a trio of Americans — Theo Humphrey (67), Taylor Montgomery (68) and Cameron Young (71) — in the third tournament of the four-event Korn Ferry Tour Championship Series.
Chattanooga's Stephan Jaeger, a week after winning the Albertsons Boise Open for his fifth Korn Ferry Tour victory, closed with a 66 that was the lowest round of the day and tied for fifth with four others at 9 under. The former Baylor School and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga standout had been seven shots out of the lead after 54 holes.
TROON, Scotland — Sophia Popov marked her ball a few inches from the hole on the 18th green, pulled the brim of her cap over her face and began to cry in the arms of her caddie.
The realization had finally hit her. Against all the odds, she was about to become a major champion.
Moments later and still wiping away tears, Popov tapped in the putt to complete a two-stroke victory at Royal Troon Golf Club and another Cinderella story at the Women's British Open. Last year, 20-year-old Hinako Shibuno delivered an upset when she triumphed in her first event outside her native Japan.
Popov, No. 304 in the women's world rankings entering the tournament, had never won on either the Ladies European Tour or the LPGA Tour. She lost her LPGA card at the end of last year and qualified for the British Open via a top-10 finish two weeks ago at the Marathon Classic, which she was playing only because higher-ranked golfers couldn't attend due to COVID-19 restrictions.
This was just Popov's fourth appearance at a major. And, as she revealed in public for the first time Sunday, she has been bothered by health problems the past six years, notably Lyme disease.
No wonder the emotions flowed after shooting a 3-under 68 to finish ahead of Thailand's Jasmine Suwannapura (67) and become the first German to win a women's major. The winner's check of $675,000 is more than six times Popov's entire career earnings before Sunday.
"There's a lot of hard work behind this, a lot of struggles I went through, especially health-wise," the 27-year-old said. "I had a lot of obstacles thrown in my way, so I'm glad I stuck with it. I almost quit playing last year — thank God I didn't."
Suwannapura, ranked No. 138, made four straight birdies to move within one stroke of the lead on the front nine, but it was the closest she came to Popov, who had held a three-stroke lead through 54 holes.
Eighth-ranked Minjee Lee (69) of Australia finished third at 3 under, two shots ahead of seven-time major champion Inbee Park (66) of South Korea, the only other player to finish the tournament under par. Austin Ernst (70), an American, was another stroke back in fifth.
Rallies in Wales
NEWPORT, Wales — French golfer Romain Langasque earned his first European Tour victory by closing with a bogey-free 6-under 65 to win the Wales Open.
That matched the lowest score of this year's tournament and allowed him to finish at 8-under 276, two strokes ahead of Finland's Sami Valimaki (69). The 25-year-old Langasque, ranked No. 156 entering the week, was five strokes off the lead when he began his round and made three birdies each on the front nine and the back nine at Celtic Manor, which also hosted last weekend's Celtic Classic.
Sweden's Sebastian Soderberg, who started the day sharing a three-stroke lead with Scotland's Connor Syme, went to the par-5 18th needing a birdie to take Langasque to a playoff. His hopes ended when his approach shot found the water and he wound up with a triple-bogey 8 for a 74, dropping to a tie for fifth at 4 under.
Syme closed with a 75 and tied for eighth at 3 under. He had a two-shot lead entering the Celtic Classic but wound up third.
Unheralded English players Matthew Jordan (66) and David Dixon (68), who is ranked No. 1,228, tied for third at 5 under.