Dustin Johnson the Latest Multiple Playoff Winner

Dustin Johnson became the sixth player to win multiple FedExCup tournaments by taking The Barclays. Copyright Icon SMI.

Baseball, football, and basketball players make their reputation in the playoffs. In golf, the playoffs are a nice bonus but reputations are made in the major championships.

Funny thing is, it’s the playoffs where certain players appear to be flourishing these days. While the last 13 major championships have been won by 13 different players, the same players keep popping up in the PGA Tour playoffs. There have now been 17 playoff events, and they’ve been won by just 10 players.

Dustin Johnson became the latest multiple playoff winner by claiming the storm-shortened Barclays on Saturday (and if he hadn’t won it, Matt Kuchar would have won his second). Just one event into the fifth year of the FedExCup playoffs, we already have six multiple playoff winners: Tiger Woods with three and Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas, Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson, and Johnson with two each.

The fact that PGA Tour players don’t have to deal with those pesky non-member internationals must help. Five of the last eight majors have been captured by players who weren’t members at the time.

Woods set the stage by winning two playoff events in 2007, a feat repeated by Vijay Singh and Camilo Villegas, who split the four tournaments in 2008. Stricker and Mickelson both won in 2007 and again in 2009. Johnson bounced back from his major meltdowns of 2010 to win the BMW Championship; this time he recovered from a British Open runner-up and a fairly disappointing season to date by shooting 66-63-65 at rain-softened Plainfield Country Club.

While Woods did his dominating thing with three wins and three seconds in just seven playoff tournaments in 2007 and 2009 (he skipped one event), he hasn’t been the story of the FedExCup playoffs the way we envisioned when the system was announced. Who would have thought that he would tee it up in only nine of the 20 playoff tournaments in the first five years? By the way, only two players have played in all 17 playoff events held so far. Go ahead and guess…the answer will be revealed later.

Anyway, Woods’ success in those two years was no surprise. The players who have raised their games the most in the playoffs are Stricker and Villegas. A very good player in the regular season over the last five years, the mild-mannered Stricker has been great in the playoffs, with two wins, two seconds, a third, and 10 top-10 finishes. Villegas, a spotty player in the regular season, has two wins and nine top-10s in the playoffs.

Still, the big prize has eluded them, as the FedExCup has gone to Woods (2007, 2009), Singh (2008), and Jim Furyk (2010). With a $10 million bonus for winning the points race and just $3 million for second, that leaves Woods as the big money winner.

This year Stricker enters the playoffs second in points, but he got off to a mediocre start with a tie for 24th at The Barclays. Villegas came into The Barclays in danger of missing the rest of the playoffs at 108th (the top 100 advanced), but showed his playoff form again by tying for sixth to move all the way up to 51st.

Here are the leaders since the start of the playoffs in 2007:

Top-10 finishes
Steve Stricker 10
Camilo Villegas 9
Jim Furyk 7
Ernie Els 6
Sergio Garcia 6
Tiger Woods 6

Top-5 finishes
Tiger Woods 6
Steve Stricker 5
Sergio Garcia 4
Nine tied with 3

Tiger Woods 3
Dustin Johnson 2
Phil Mickelson 2
Vijay Singh 2
Steve Stricker 2
Camilo Villegas 2

Tournaments played
Hunter Mahan 17
Steve Stricker 17
Stewart Cink 16
Ernie Els 16
Jim Furyk 16
Phil Mickelson 16
Geoff Ogilvy 16
Camilo Villegas 16

So, the answer to the above question is that Stricker and Hunter Mahan are the only two players to have competed in all 17 playoff events. Els, Furyk, and Mickelson have also qualified for the Tour Championship in each of the first four years. But Els and Mickelson each skipped an event in 2007 and Furyk was disqualified from The Barclays before it started last year for missing his pro-am tee time.

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