His birdie-eagle closing might not have given him a score below 60, but it helped open him up to a five-stroke lead at the Northern Trust.
Sailing along and a few strokes ahead of a crowded leaderboard, Johnson rolled in a 20-foot birdie of 17, then capped his lap with a 40-foot eagle putt to sit 22 under 191, five strokes ahead of Scottie Scheffler and English Harris. That finishing kick would have come in handy in the second round, when Johnson played the first 11 holes in 11 under par before clinching to finish. On the 18th he drove in an awkward lie in the rough, rested and hit a mediocre corner to register a 60 which was largely underwhelming.
Johnson looked satisfied this time around – because it meant he had gotten a hold of the tournament.
“I’m going to go out and shoot as low as possible,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what the other guys are doing. I’ll play my game and I’ll be aggressive when I can and a little more conservative when I have to. I’m still going to have to go out and shoot a good score if I want to win.
Since 2010, only five players out of 29 attempts have failed to close a lead of five or more shots. Johnson is one of those – when he blew his big advantage at the 2017 WGC-HSBC Champions. He also spat out a 54-hole lead two weeks ago at the PGA Championship, where he finished with 68 but n couldn’t keep pace with Collin Morikawa.
The Northern Trust: scores complets | Couverture totale
Current FedExCup Points Ranking
“I played well at the PGA on Sunday,” he said. “I can’t really complain. Obviously, Collin played really well on Sunday. I couldn’t do anything about it.
Another low lap on Sunday will be enough to propel Johnson to the top of the FedExCup points race and, in all likelihood, return to No.1 in the world. He will assume this place if he wins and Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm finish worse than a three-way tie for second.