Dustin Johnson has four PGA Tour playoff victories in his career but has never claimed the FedEx Cup, and would like to change that this season.
DJ, who can take the lead in the FedEx Cup point standings by winning the playoff opener, finished of a 7-under-par 64 with birdie-eagle to build a five-stroke lead over Harris English and rookie Scottie Scheffler heading to the final round of The Northern Trust at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass.
The top 70 golfers from the opener will move on to the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club outside Chicago next week, with the top 30 after that one going to the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta to determine the 2020 FedEx Cup champion.
“It was good, solid all round,” said Johnson, who held a two-stroke lead after shooting 60 in round two. “I drove the ball better today, put myself in position with a lot of good iron shots and made some putts. Making those putts on the last two holes was great.
“I wasn’t thinking about yesterday, just shooting as low as I could again today. It was a good day and obviously I’m in a great position, but I have to go out and have another good round again tomorrow if I want to win.”
The fourth-ranked Johnson, who claimed his 21st PGA Tour victory in June at the Travelers Championship, birdied four of the first eight holes and then sank putts of 19 and 40 feet on those last two holes to record a 54-hole total of 22-under 191.
English, who was tied for the lead before Johnson pulled away, collected eight birdies but made two late bogeys in a second straight 66, while Scheffler, who shot 59 in round two, sank a two-foot birdie putt at No. 18 to cap a 67.
“I had no status after finishing 149th in the points last year and not making it to the Korn Ferry Tour finals,” said English, a two-time PGA Tour winner hasn’t won since the 2014 OHL Classic at Mayakoba, but has five top-10 finishes this season and 12 in the top 25. “So I knew wasn’t going to get to play in too many tournaments this year.
“That meant I had to be 100 percent ready and motivated to play every time I got a chance to tee it up this year. That was my motto this season and feel pretty good about the way I’m playing right now.”
Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa sank a five-foot birdie putt on the last hole to complete a 68 and is seven shots back in solo fourth, while Harry Higgs shot 66 and is one more down in a tie for fifth with Daniel Berger, who had a 67 and Danny Lee of New Zealand, who finished at 69.
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson is nine strokes behind in solo eighth after a 67, while Tyrell Hatton of England had 10 birdies to post the low score of the day at 63 and is 10 back in a tie for ninth with Charley Hoffman (68) of Poway, Alex Noren (64) of Sweden, Russell Henley (70), Kevin Kisner (70) and Cameron Davis (72) of Australia.
Sixth-ranked Webb Simpson is tied for 15th after a 68, top-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain shot 67 and is in a tie for 19th, while second-ranked Justin Thomas, the points leader and 2017 FedEx Cup champion, totaled 71 and is in a tie for 34th with 10th-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, who had a 67.
Defending champion and ninth-ranked Patrick Reed is tied for 51st after a 68, two-time FedEx Cup champion Tiger Woods shot 73 and is 67th, and third-ranked Rory McIlroy, the defending FedEx Cup champ, struggled to a 74 and is 68th.
For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html