Johnson also going for Player of the Year at East Lake

Early leader Dustin Johnson watches his drive off the fifth tee while Sungjae Im prepares to tee off during their third round of the Tour Championship Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020, at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

As well as a FedEx Cup title and a boat-full of money, the Jack Nicklaus Award for the PGA Tour’s player of the year may well be on the line during Monday’s finale at the Tour Championship.

There is a heaping handful of players with the proper credentials. Justin Thomas thus far has the most Tour wins — three — of the group. Collin Morikawa is the only major winner in this shortened season, and has another win at Muirfield as well as six top-10 finishes. Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm came to East Lake ranked 1-2 in FedEx Cup points and world ranking, both with a pair of Tour victories. Webb Simpson won once before the coronavirus break and once afterward. Brendon Todd won two events early in the year.

ExplorePhotos: Round 3 of the Tour Championship in Atlanta

Rightly and conveniently, all six are at this season-ending Tour Championship, which would be happy to play tie-breaker in this debate. Johnson holds a five-shot lead over the field and, specifically Thomas, who is the closest to him of the other candidates.

Rahm for one, is open to winner-take-all. “I will say being as fair as possible, I think it comes to if any one of us wins this week,” he said earlier.

Drive for show: The best of the beefed-up Bryson DeChambeau was on display Sunday when he went all long-drive contest on the par-4 third hole, blasting his tee shot 357 yards. That left him only 49 yards to the hole. You better birdie after that, and he did, hitting it to 4 feet and making the putt. Shockingly, the PGA Tour’s leader in driving length (average 325 yards) is only 18th in driving distance among the 30-man field at East Lake through three rounds. Such temperance off the tee is out of respect to the narrow fairways and Bermuda rough here.

Bulldogs fail to gain traction: None of the three University of Georgia products were able to move into contention Sunday.

Brendon Todd needed a birdie at the 17th hole to shoot an even-par 70, leaving him in a tie for ninth at 8 under. Harris English and Kevin Kisner both shot a 69. English is tied for 18th at minus-5, Kisner is in 23rd place at 2 under.

The eighth hole was a problem for all three, with each failing to make par there. Todd got hung up in the left rough and just missed a 17-footer to save par. English took a bogey there after failing to get up and down from the greenside bunker. Kisner wound up with a double bogey after dumping his tee shot into East Lake.

Brendon Todd, of Athens, blasts from the bunker to the 18th green to save par during the third round of the Tour Championship Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020, at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Todd finished with a round at 8-under par and tied for 9th place going into the final round. (Curtis Compton /

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Berger matches Johnson’s low round of day: A couple of birdie streaks enabled Daniel Berger to shoot a 6-under 64, matching the low round of the week. It was the first sign of life this week shown by Berger, who started the week No. 6 in the FedEx Cup standings. He moved up 11 spots Sunday and bot back into a tie for sixth place.

Berger had three-straight birdies at No. 5, 6 and 7, then finished his round with birdies at No. 16, 17 and 18. On his final three holes, Berger hit it close enough to have a four-footer at No. 16, a six-footer at No. 17 and a tap-in after a 66-foot eagle attempt at No. 18.

Berger was one of the hottest players on Tour before the COVID-19 shutdown and won the Charles Schwab Challenge when competition resumed.

Three-of-a-kind dooms Im: A disastrous three-hole stretch early in his Sunday round put a serious dent in Sungjae Im’s scorecard.

Im, playing in the last group with Johnson, made bogeys at No. 3, 4 and 5 to play himself out of the picture. He wound up shooting 72 and fell nine shots back of Johnson.

Im three-putted the third hole and was victimized by poor drives at No. 4 and No. 5, hooking both into spots that forced him to lay up with approach shots short of the green.

He birdied the next hole, but the damage was done.

This and that: Defending champion Rory McIlroy had a frustrating 70 on Sunday. McIlroy drove it poorly (4.28 percent of fairways) and hit only 61.1 percent of greens in regulation. ... Cameron Champ had one of the more unusual scorecards turned in Sunday. He shot an even-par 70 that included only six pars. Champ had six birdies and six bogeys.

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