Friday, August 25, 2017

Fowler, Johnson, Vegas and Spieth  at top of

Northern Trust leaderboard

OLD WESTBURY, New York State -- Two swings cost Dustin Johnson the lead. It wasn't long before Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler caught up to him at the Northern Trust tournament, setting up a weekend of star power in the opening FedExCup Play-offs event.
Johnson, finally looking like the No. 1 player who seemed unstoppable in the spring, appeared on the verge of building a big lead at Glen Oaks Club until consecutive tee shots wound up on the wrong holes and forced him to scramble just to escape with bogey.

Fowler made up a five-shot deficit in six holes playing alongside Johnson, making a 15-foot birdie putt on the last hole for a 66 to join Johnson, Spieth  and Jhonattan Vegas (65) atop the leaderboard.

Spieth put together a stretch Friday afternoon reminiscent of his Open victory, minus a shot from the driving range, in a 65.
Spieth began the back nine with five straight birdies, matching his longest birdie streak on the US PGA Tour.
It ended with a bogey on the par-3 15th where his tee shot rolled back into the water, but then he answered with a 40ft birdie putt up the slope on the 16th.
Even without his best year with his best club, Spieth has won three times and captured the third leg of the Grand Slam. But his putter doesn't leave him for long.
"Putter has been streaky for me this summer, which is better than just kind of not-so-great, which it was before that," he said. "So I've been able to mentally use one or two good putts to make me feel like I'm putting awesome.
"I got on the good side of the streak on the back nine today."
Spieth made pars from the bunkers on the last two holes to join the others at 6-under 134.
He wasn't alone in running off a string of birdies. Matt Kuchar looked as though he might miss the cut until his caddie encouraged him to try to get back to even par. Kuchar ran off four straight birdies and kept right on rolling, ending his round of 64 with eight birdies on the last 10 holes.

Kuchar and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson (68) are one shot out of the lead.
Watson is at No. 113 in the FedExCup, and only the top 100 after the Northern Trust tournament  advance to the Dell Technologies Championship next week.
Watson says he won't play the rest of the year once he is eliminated. A big finish this week could delay that another month, a nice problem to have.
Jon Rahm, who played with Johnson and Fowler, had a 68 and was two shots behind along with Justin Rose (68) and Russell Henley (72).
Seventy players made the cut at 2-over par. That included Geoff Ogilvy, who went bunker-to-bunker-to-bunker on his final hole and had to make a 4-foot putt for double bogey.
If he had missed, then it would have let 11 players back into the tournament. Among those missing the cut were Hideki Matsuyama, the No. 1 seed going into the FedExCup Playoffs, who three-putted the last hole and missed by one.
The cut at 142 and better ended the season of 13 players, a group that included Presidents Cup Captain Steve Stricker and former PGA Champion Jimmy Walker.
Johnson looked so sharp early on that he didn't have a birdie putt longer than 12 feet over his first six holes, though he converted just two of them. He reached 8-under when he hammered a driver and a fairway metal to the back of the green on the 629-yard third hole, two-putting for birdie.
But his tee shot on No. 4 was inches away from the third fairway, and his next shot struck a tree. He had to get up-and-down from 50 feet right to save bogey.
The next tee shot was so far left it was in the rough on the fourth hole. He clipped branches, hit a poor chip and had to two-putt from 80 feet for his bogey.
"But other than that, I felt like it was a really solid day," Johnson said. "I'm really pleased with the way the golf game is right now and I'm looking forward to this weekend."
Fowler, meanwhile stuffed it on No. 4 and rolled in an 8-footer on the par-3 sixth over water, and just like that they were tied.
"Pretty stress-free," Fowler said. "I've been driving it well this week, which is key around here. You don't want to play out of the rough."
Phil Mickelson limited his mistakes and made four birdies in a round of 68, which left him six shots behind on 140 but gave him two more rounds at Glen Oaks to post the kind of scores that would make him a viable pick for the Presidents Cup.
Rory McIlroy, who is going to play in the Alfred Dunhill Cup, chipped in for birdie on the tough par-3 second and shot 68. He is seven shots behind on 141 alongside Henrik Stenson (69-72) and Ian Poulter (71-70).
The focus is at the top with so many popular players contending -- Spieth, Fowler, Johnson at the top.
"That's what tends to happen in the (FedExCup) Playoffs," Spieth said. "As less guys make the next tournaments, you start to get players that are playing very well, and to no surprise, those guys are toward the top. ... Should be an exciting weekend." 
Par 140 (2x70)
134 J Vegas 69 65, D Johnson 65 69, R Fowler 68 66, J Spieth 69 65.
135 M Kurchar 71 64, B Watson 67 68.
136 J Rahm 68 68, J Rose 68 68, R Henlry 64 72.

137 P Casey 69 68 (TY10)
138 M Laird 69 69 (T19)
140 P Mikelson 72 68 (T32)
141 H Stenson 69 72, I Poulter 71 70, R McIlroy 73 68 (T47)
142 L Donald 71 71 (T62)

MISSED THE CUT (142 and better qualified)
149 R Knox 74 75

To view all the scores




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