Norton, Mass. – Dustin Johnson shot a 7-under 64 on Saturday at TPC Boston and will take a five-shot lead into Sunday’s final round of The Northern Trust.
Entering Saturday’s round two strokes up on Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Davis, Johnson kept his cool as the two chasers made charges at the world No. 4 – first Davis with three straight birdies out of the gate, and then Scheffler with four gains in a five hole stretch around the turn.
But Johnson, who never flinched, shot a flawless 4-under front-nine, and maintained a two-shot advantage for much of the back set until a spectacular birdie-eagle finish pushed him to 22-under par, five shots clear of Scheffler and Harris English.
“I felt good over the ball. Felt like I was rolling it well,” said Johnson, who would move to No. 1 in the FedExCup standings with a win tomorrow. “Obviously I made two nice ones there at the end. Obviously 18 was a real nice putt. Made a nice 15-footer on 17 which was good.
“All in all, feel like I’m hitting it really well. Felt like I drove the ball in the fairway and gave myself a lot of opportunities for birdie.
“Tomorrow, need to go out and do the same thing. Obviously the golf course, especially with the rain, it softened up so you can really attack it, and you can shoot some low scores out here. I need to go out with the same mind-set and play the same kind of game I have been and just play aggressive when I can. There’s a few holes where you take par and keep on going.”
Harris, who shared the first-round lead, found himself atop the leaderboard again after a flurry of birdies in the middle portion of his round, highlighted by a trio of gains over the difficult four-hole stretch known as The Wicked Hard Mile. But back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17, and a par on the very scoreable par-5 18th gave Harris a round of 66, and a three-day total of 17 under.
Despite the disappointing finish, the former Georgia Bulldog was excited to be in the mix once again.
“Yeah, feeling good. Going in today, my goal score was 3-under and I had to change that a little bit after the rain delay when I was 4-under. But felt good about it,” said English, who owns two career PGA Tour wins, both coming in 2013.
“The wind was swirling a little bit, coming in and misread some wind directions, but overall, played my irons great. Putted great. Short game feels good. So taking a lot of positives from today.
“I’m in the hunt again and ready to come out tomorrow and see what happens.”
While Scheffler lost ground to Johnson on Saturday, he will enter the final round tied for second-place at 17 under, five off the pace, and in good position – at the very – to secure some valuable playoff points (and cash).
“Trying to stay in my own world and keep plugging along,” said Scheffler, who could clinch a spot in East Lake with a top-3 finish. “I did a good job of that. Dustin played a great round today and gave himself a little cushion for tomorrow but still not too far back.”
Two further back was South African Louis Oosthuizen (67), who birdied No. 18 to secure the fourth spot for himself on 15-under par.
The trio of Harry Higgs (66), Daniel Berger (67), and Danny Lee (69) were T5 on 14 under, one clear of Bubba Watson (67), who was solo-eighth on 13 under.
Tyrrell Hatton shot a low-round 63, which included 10 birdies, to join a six-player logjam at T9 on 12-under par.
DJ (-22) will be paired with English (-17) in Sunday’s final group, while Scheffler (-17) and Oosthuizen (-15) will comprise the penultimate pairing.
TOP 5 LEADERS
1. Dustin Johnson -22 (-7)
2. Harris English -17 (-5)
2. Scottie Scheffler -17 (-4)
4. Louis Oosthuizen -15 (-3)
5. Harry Higgs -14 (-5)
5. Daniel Berger -14 (-4)
5. Danny Lee -14 (-2)
1. Dustin Johnson – 322.9 (1)
2. Jon Rahm – 320.0 (T19)
3. Jason Kokrak – 319.6 (T34)
1. Matt Kuchar – 36/42, 85.7% (T22)
2. Tommy Fleetwood – 36/42, 85.7% (T34)
2. Andrew Landry – 35/42, 83.3% (T55)
1. Dustin Johnson – 47/54, 87.0% (1)
2. Scottie Scheffler – 44/54, 81.5% (T2)
2. Webb Simpson – 44/54, 81.5% (T15)
Putts Per GIR
1. Wyndham Clark – 1.559 (T34)
2. Harris English – 1.564 (T2)
3. Maverick McNealy – 1.567 (T55)
1. Scottie Scheffler – 22 (T2)
2. Cameron Davis – 21 (T9)
3. Harris English – 20 (T2)
Final Three Pairings
All times Eastern Standard
2:25 pm – Dustin Johnson, Harris English
2:15 pm – Scottie Scheffler, Louis Oosthuizen
2:05 pm – Harry Higgs, Daniel Berger
Q. You have a five-stroke lead, but how much of the leaderboard will you be looking at?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: “I mean, for me, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to go out and shoot as low as I can. Doesn’t matter what the other guys are doing. I’m just going to play my game and I’ll be aggressive when I can be and be a little more conservative when I have to be.
“I’m still going to have to go out and shoot a good score if I want to win.”