It’s rare when a leader board shapes up exactly how a golf fan wants it to, but that’s exactly what’s happened through 36 holes at The Northern Trust, the first leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler lead the way at Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, New York, tied at six-under 134 along with Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas.
Spieth, 24, sat five strokes off the lead entering the second round and found himself in the same position after nine holes on Friday. That’s when he went into full Spieth-mode, making five straight birdies to get to six under for the tournament. After dropping his second shot of the day at the par-3 15th, he added a sixth birdie on his back nine, then finished with two straight pars to shoot a five-under 65. It’s the eighth time the three-time Major champ has had a share of the 36-hole lead on the US PGA Tour, and he’s converted six of them into victories.
Johnson was on pace to match his opening-round 65, cruising along on Friday at three under through 12 holes and eight under for the tournament. Consecutive bogeys on the fourth and fifth holes (his 13th and 14th) derailed him a bit, but he was still able to card a one-under 69 and grab a share of the lead.
Playing alongside Johnson was Fowler, who shot a four-under 66 with five birdies and one bogey. He’s been arguably the most consistent player on tour, with a victory at the Honda Classic, three top-threes and nine top-10s. In his last seven events, he’s finished T-5 or better four times.
Vegas, 32, posted a bogey-free five-under 65 that now has him projected at fourth in the FedEx Cup standings. A strong weekend would put him in excellent position to make it to the Tour Championship, which seemed like a pipe dream after the Venezuelan missed nine of 10 cuts between the Masters and the Open Championship. A week after Royal Birkdale, he defended his title at the RBC Canadian Open for his third US PGA Tour victory.
The pack chasing the leaders boasts strong names as well, with Matt Kuchar and Bubba Watson each sitting one back at five-under 135. Kuchar’s six-under 64 was the round of the day, while Watson’s two-under 68 gives him a second straight sub-70 round. Both have yet to win this season.
Jon Rahm, Justin Rose and Russell Henley are two back at four-under 136.
Eight players are at three-under 137, including US PGA champion Justin Thomas, defending Northern Trust champ Patrick Reed, Paul Casey and Daniel Berger.
Phil Mickleson, Brooks Koepka and Jason Day will all make the cut at even par 140, as will Rory McIlroy, who sits at one-over 141.
Day was the best of the Australians, sitting T-32. Geoff Ogilvy and Rod Pampling were T-62, having made the cut right on the number at two-over 142. Marc Leishman was a stroke further back. Cameron Smith and New Zealand’s Danny Lee missed the cut by three strokes at five-over 145.