Dustin Johnson could breathe a sigh of relief after his 8-foot, 1-inch putt plunked into the cup on the 18th green Friday. His final effort gave him sole possession of the lead at the Northern Trust after missing several attempts from similar distances. As the 35-year-old golfer put together a 4-under 67, there was a stroke everywhere that he left on the green at Liberty National Golf Course. Dustin missed four putts from 9 feet or closer and there were three more just off the mark from about 12 feet.
However, Dustin took solace as he found himself with close-in birdie attempts regularly. In addition, the putts he did leave him confident with where he’s at, holding a one-stroke lead over Jordan Spieth and heading into the first weekend of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. “I’m definitely pleased with the way I’m hitting it, so that outweighs anything else that’s going on,” Johnson said. “I feel like I’m rolling the putter good. That’s another positive. I’m not hitting bad putts. I’m hitting where I want to, and that’s all you can do.”
He separated himself from the pack with three birdies on the back nine by building off a standout 8-under first round. Nevertheless, his start on the game on Friday was lacking as his tee shot on the first hole found the fairway bunker. Dustin rarely gets himself in trouble after his first-hole conundrum, though and in most cases he hasn’t shown the consistency of his 2017 season.
Fourteen of his tee shots got the fairway or green, and his second shot landed on the green when he found the rough on the 15th hole. It looked like a potential par-saving approach, putting from 19 feet, 3 inches away from the pin. Johnson just gave a wave to the crowd as a roar went up, his ball trickling down a slope and into the cup.
“I felt like my golf swing is closer to where it was back then, right now, I’ve got a lot of good feels, and you know, I felt like today was a lot like it was yesterday, and that’s kind of when I was playing really well, was very consistent. I was hitting the same kind of shots, feeling the same every day, and that’s when I played really well. So, the last two days have been very consistent, which is probably the only two rounds that I felt like have been the same like this whole year, besides Mexico, where I played well all four rounds there. Yeah, I’ve got a lot of confidence in the swing.”
Dustin might put himself in the driver’s seat for his first FedEx Cup Playoffs title if he can rattle off another two solid rounds; he entered the Northern Trust at No. 7 in the FedEx Cup standings. Although he brushed it off when asked if he thinks at all about the FedEx Cup points race and what a performance at Liberty National would do. He said,
“I just want to give myself a chance to win on Sunday. Don’t care what position I am in the FedEx. I want to win a golf tournament.”