Johnson found it. He doesn’t have to be told what’s out there for him Sunday.
The hard-luck loser of last year’s PGA Championship will have a chance for the biggest win of his career when he takes a two-shot lead into the final round of the WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral. While others faltered on the back nine and particularly on the infamous 18th, Johnson had it in cruise control, attacking the course with his distance and blitzing the back nine in 31 to fulfill Harmon’s prediction.
It also came after a 20-minute range session with his coach Saturday morning.
“There wasn’t anything going wrong,” said Johnson, who was at 13-under par 203. “I wanted to get him out there just to take a look at some things. The first two days I didn’t drive it that great. I hit into the fairway a little bit but I wasn’t hitting the type of shots that I wanted to. I hit a lot of good drives today.”
According to Harmon, he knew Johnson was dialed in when he started bombing them over Doral instructor Jim McLean‘s shed. Johnson hit 10 of 14 fairways, with one of the misses going into the front bunker on the drivable 16th hole. Averaging 292.9 yards a drive, he was the definition of overpowering.
His competition, meanwhile, fell off late. Luke Donald (66), looking for his second straight WGC win, tied for the lead with a birdie on No. 14 but bogeyed the 18th to fall two back in second. Nick Watney (68), another Harmon student, missed a three-foot birdie putt that would have given him the outright lead on No. 17, then drove it into the water on No. 18, pulling his hat over his face. A day that began with an eagle ended with a double bogey and left him tied for second with Donald and Matt Kuchar (68).
Finally, Hunter Mahan, who had led for most of the tournament, bogeyed four of the last six holes to shoot 71 and fall into a fifth-place tie, three shots back.
As for Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, playing together for the third straight day, their hopes of winning again at Doral are done. Woods rebounded with a 2-under 70 after switching putters from his trusty Scotty Cameron to a Nike model and using it a week-low 28 times. But Tiger, was 11 behind and is paired Sunday with Thomas Bjorn, the man who beat him in match play last month, also hit just five of 14 fairways and ducked any questions from the media.
Mickelson didn’t talk either after shooting even par with just four fairways hit to be 13 back. If Mickelson makes up two shots on Woods and ends up tying him, he will pass him in the World Rankings for the first time since Woods won the 1997 Masters. That’s the only drama left for them Sunday.