NORTON, Mass. – The law of averages says that over time things even out, but Dustin Johnson did not go to law school while he was at Coastal Carolina University.
The 36-year-old arrived here at TPC Boston, site of this week’s Northern Trust, averaging just over four birdies per round in PGA Tour events this season. On Friday, when he shot 60, Johnson made seven, to go along with two eagles.
The law of averages would say that Johnson should cool off on Saturday, and while it’s true that he did not shoot another 60, even before rain forced play to be suspended at 3:45 p.m., with Johnson in the ninth fairway, he had four circles on his card.
No, he didn’t shoot another 60, but he did shoot 64 thanks to six birdies and another eagle. The 2016 U.S. Open winner is at 22 under and will take a five-shot lead into Sunday over both Harris English (66) and Scottie Scheffler (67).
Louis Oosthuizen shot 68 and will begin the final round of the Northern Trust in fourth place, seven shots behind Johnson.
“I’m in a great position and like where I’m at, but I’m still going to have to go out and shoot a good score,” Johnson said.”You can go low out here, and guys are going low every day, especially with the conditions we have.”
English applied some pressure to Johnson on the back nine, pitching in on the 14th hole from 42 feet away to reach 19 under, one off Johnson’s lead at that time.
“(My) irons have been awesome all week this week, and I feel like it’s a great mid-iron golf course,” English said. “I had my putting going today, as well. So, kind of everything was clicking. I felt like I managed it pretty well, and short game was good. Tough finish, not the finish I was looking for but felt like I got a lot of momentum going into tomorrow.”
Yeah, about that finish.
English pushed his tee shot on the 176-yard par-3 16th to the right and then missed a 7-footer for par. Then, after his approach to the 17th came up 75 feet short, his first putt ran 8 feet beyond the cup, and he missed the comebacker for par.
Johnson, on the other hand, finished like Secretariat. He made an 18-footer for birdie on 17 and then eagled the 18th hole after hitting his approach shot from 219 yards to 40 feet and making a twisting putt.
“Obviously I did what I wanted to and drove it in the fairway, knocked it on the green, and obviously making that putt is a bonus,” he said. “It was a pretty tough putt up and over a ridge and breaking a lot. But had perfect speed on it and it went in.”
After play on Sunday, the players ranked No. 70 or better on the FedEx Cup points list will be eligible to compete next week at the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields Golf Club outside Chicago.
Several well-known players – including Jordan Spieth, Harold Varner and Graeme McDowell – missed the cut at the Northern Trust and started the week ranked higher than No. 70 on the FedEx Cup points list. Their 2019-20 PGA Tour seasons are done. Sunday will be a big day for many other well-known pros who arrived at TPC Boston ranked higher than No. 70 and who made the cut.
Harry Higgs, who started the week at No. 72, is helping himself by shooting 67-66-66. There are 18 more holes to be played, but he is projected to move up to 34th, while Alex Noren came here in the No. 78 spot and is projected to No. 54th.
On the other side of the coin, Rickie Fowler needs to go low and hop over more players. He came to the Northern Trust ranked No. 88 in FedEx Cup points and is projected to rise to No. 96. Zach Johnson, a two-time major winner, started at No. 104, but he is T-29 after three rounds at TPC Boston and is projected to only rise to No. 93.