If you would have told me two former U.S. Open winners would be atop the Northern Trust leaderboard at Liberty National Golf Club following two rounds of play, I don’t believe I would have guessed the two that are actually atop the leaderboard after two rounds of play.
Dustin Johnson (-12) and Jordan Spieth (-11) will have the final tee time on Saturday when golfers tee it up in the third round of the first FedEx Cup Playoff event of August. They shot a combined 11 under on Friday (more on that in a bit) and lead by one over a group of golfers that includes Patrick Reed, Jon Rahm, Abraham Ancer and Troy Merritt.
Let’s jump into Round 2 and see where we stand heading into the weekend.
First place — Dustin Johnson (-12): Johnson has just one bogey in 36 holes, and he hasn’t even started putting it well yet. He’s gained nearly 10 strokes on this field from tee to green and only a half stroke (!) on everybody with his flat stick. If he starts feeling it on Saturday and Sunday, it might be a boat race all the way to the Statue of Liberty.
Last place — Brian Gay (+8): Gay’s season ended with a 77 in Round 2 on Friday where he made five bogeys and a double. He still gets $101,000 for just making the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Must be nice!
Other contenders — Jordan Spieth (-11), Patrick Reed (-10), Jon Rahm (-10), Justin Rose (-9), Rory McIlroy (-9), Louis Oosthuizen (-9): It’s a dangerous group just beyond D.J. We’ll talk about McIlroy in a minute, but first let’s discuss Spieth. The U.S. Open champ beat D.J. at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay four years ago, but he finds himself chasing here. Yes, he putted well on Friday in shooting 64, but he also finished 17th in strokes gained tee to green for the second consecutive day. That’s the most encouraging number I’ve seen from Spieth in months — kind of like the opposite of this number!
What did Tiger Woods do? Nothing.. He’s up in the air for next week’s BMW Championship, but I hope he doesn’t play until 2020.
Who had a great day? Phil Mickelson moved up 58 spots to T34 after shooting a 5-under 66 on Friday that included some great all-around play. He was positive strokes gained in every category except driving (very on brand for him), and will play a weekend that once seemed pretty far away.
Who had a lousy day? Oh my gosh, did Russell Knox really shoot 66-80 with two quads in Round 2?! Oh my gosh, it appears that he did!
Rules snafu of the day: Rory McIlroy was initially assessed a two-stroke penalty during his round, but it was then rescinded once he was finished. Instead of being at 7 under and T15, McIlroy is 9 under and T7, just three back of D.J.’s lead.
What to watch on Day 3: D.J. has staying power (obviously) — he’s a +225 favorite right now — but I’m interested to see who joins him for a Sunday duel. It could be any number of the chasers between Spieth, Reed, Rahm, Rose and McIlroy. All are compelling storylines and have put together great seasons (maybe except for Spieth), and all would make for fascinating foils as Johnson goes for his 21st PGA Tour win this weekend.
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