(Reuters) - Dustin Johnson continued his red hot play at Northern Trust Open on Saturday curling in a 40-foot eagle putt on 18 to give him a five shot cushion going into the final round of the FedExCup playoffs opener.
Johnson’s third round seven-under 64 while impressive was almost greeted with a yawn after the sensational 11-under 60 the big-hitting American carded on Friday that shot him to the top of the leaderboard where he has remained.
Sitting five back are Harris English after returning a 66 for the second straight day and Scottie Scheffler, who returned a 67 a day after shooting a 59, just the 12th sub-60 round in PGA Tour history.
It was another cool, confident display from Johnson at the TPC Boston piling up five birdies before dropping his first shot in two days with a bogey at the 13th.
But Johnson would close in style with a birdie at 17 and an eagle at 18.
It will mark the second time in as many tournaments Johnson has held the 54th lead but will be looking for a different result after failing to close the deal at the PGA Championships.
Certainly Johnson will not be under as much pressure as he was at Harding Park where he started the final round with a one shot advantage, but he knows he cannot be complacent on layout where low scores are there for the taking.
“Obviously 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 told reporters. “You can go low out here and guys are going low every day, especially with the conditions we have.”
This week’s tournament, open to the top 125 golfers in the season-long points standings, is the first of three playoff events that culminate with the Sept. 4-7 Tour Championship in Atlanta and the $15 million prize to the FedExCup champion.
Only the top 70 in the standings after this week go on to the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields outside Chicago, and from there the top 30 move on to Atlanta.
There was no moving day charge from Tiger Woods, who plodded his way to a two-over 73.
Woods got his day off to a positive start with a birdie at the second and ended on an upbeat note with another at 18 but in-between the 15-time major winner collected five bogeys to leave him just three strokes off the bottom of the leaderboard.
It was an equally disappointing outing for Rory McIlroy, the Northern Irishman taking a pair of triple bogeys on his outward nine on way to a three-over 73.
The defending FedEx Cup champion opened his round with a birdie but gave that back and more when his third shot at the second, a chip from just off the green, ricocheted off a rock into the water hazard on way to an eight.
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Daniel Wallis
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