Dustin Johnson turns tough day into 1-shot lead at East Lake

Atlanta, September 6

Dustin Johnson went the final three hours over 13 holes with out hitting from the green and nonetheless manged to hold on to the lead on Saturday after two rounds on the Tour Championship.

Johnson may a minimum of see his complete golf ball from the primary minimize on the par-5 18th at East Lake, organising a two-putt birdie for an even-par 70 and a one-shot lead lead over Sungjae Im.

The massive image going into the ultimate two rounds is all about alternative.

As nicely as Johnson has been taking part in — two runner-up finishes and an 11-shot victory in his final three begins — there was an opportunity he may have began with that two-shot lead and created some massive separation.

Instead, 9 gamers are separated by 5 pictures heading for the Labor Day end.

Im, the budding star from South Korea whose recreation had gone lukewarm popping out of the three-month shutdown, birdied three of his final 4 holes for a 64 and will probably be within the ultimate group with Johnson.

Xander Schauffele, who received the Tour Championship as a rookie in 2017, ran off three straight birdies late in his spherical for a 65 and was two pictures behind. Another massive transfer got here from PGA champion Collin Morikawa, whose 66 put him in vary.

And it took some assist from the main gamers who came across an East Lake course that punished errors.

Johnson has rounds of 67-70, and together with beginning at 10 underneath due to his No. 1 seed, was at 13-under par. He hit solely two fairways — the primary gap and the fifth, the place each occasions he made par. He nonetheless managed a birdie on No. eight when he chipped in from 40 ft and the ultimate gap, one of many two par 5s at East Lake.    

Rory McIlroy, who managed solely two birdies, misplaced floor on the finish with a shot that laser cameras estimated at 85 ft, which didn’t account for a way far it sunk to the underside of the lake. He tried to achieve the 18th inexperienced from the thick tough simply by way of the green, and it topped out into the water.

That led to bogey and a 71.

Justin Thomas pulled inside one shot till he couldn’t convert birdie probabilities after which drove to this point left on the 18th that he needed to pitch out sideways, resulting in bogey and a 71.

Jon Rahm once more was retaining stride with Johnson till he discovered the water off the tee on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, adopted by a wild drive that led to bogey on the 16th. He shot a 74, 9 pictures worse than his opening spherical.

That left him 4 pictures behind at 9 underneath, together with Morikawa and Tyrrell Hatton, who had a 66 and spoke for the sector when he mentioned hitting from the tough “is a complete lottery.”        That’s what was so maddening for Thomas, who felt like he was hitting it nicely sufficient from tee to inexperienced. He ranks final within the 30-man area in placing, which might not shock him.

“I should have never shot over par today with how well I played,” he mentioned. “I just made absolutely nothing.” That a lot was evident when his 6-foot par putt swirled out and in of the cup, and Thomas gave it a sarcastic thumbs-up.

McIlroy mentioned he tried to tackle an excessive amount of together with his shot that he duffed into the water, however he didn’t seem too shaken. This was extra concerning the leaderboard than perspective on life from being a brand new father.

“It doesn’t look like I’m going to lose any ground today anyway, which is some sort of consolation,” he mentioned.

Rahm was pissed off as ever, primarily as a result of he couldn’t capitalize when he was within the fairway and felt it was one other spherical at East Lake that may value him. Now, nonetheless, he’s nonetheless solely 4 pictures behind with 36 holes remaining and $15 million nonetheless very a lot up for grabs.

“The closest I came from the fifth hole on to make a birdie was that bunker shot on 18,” he mentioned of his third shot from behind the inexperienced.

“That’s the best look I had all day. It’s just one of those days. But like you said, the mentality is right now we’ve played two days of the tournament. I’m four back going into the weekend. Anything can happen.” — AP

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