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Johnson downs Spieth in Northern Trust playoff

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New York (AFP)

World number one Dustin Johnson hunted down Jordan Spieth with a bogey-free round, and then beat the reigning British Open champion with a birdie at the first playoff hole of the Northern Trust on Sunday.

Johnson, who started the day three shots behind overnight leader Spieth, set himself up with a monster drive at the first playoff hole and finished off the win with a three-foot birdie putt.

He had tucked his approach in close for an almost-certain birdie, so the writing was on the wall when Spieth was unable to make his long birdie attempt from the fringe.

The two stars had dueled down the back nine at Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, New York.

Johnson drained a 17-foot downhill putt for par at the 72nd hole of regulation to force the playoff, and then claimed his first victory since a back injury suffered in a fall forced him out of the Masters in April.

Until the injury, he'd been on a roll in 2017, winning three tournaments to ascend to the top of the rankings.

He fired a final round 66 on Sunday for 13-under 267 in the first of four events in the US PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs.

Spieth closed with a 69. The leading duo were four shots in front of Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas, who carded a 65 in the final round, and Spain's Jon Rahm, who signed for a 68.

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