ATLANTA (AP) Dustin Johnson powered his way down the fairways and occasionally out of the brutal rough at East Lake on Friday for a 3-under 67, giving him a one-shot lead over Kevin Chappell in the Tour Championship and moving him one round closer to the $10 million FedEx Cup prize.
The U.S. Open champion is on a different level at the moment.
Even on a demanding test like East Lake this year – only 10 players remain under par – Johnson is hitting his driver long and straight. His wedge game has gone from a weakness to a strength. A new putter he put in play two weeks ago when he won the BMW Championship is giving him a better feel for alignment.
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Small wonder that this was his seventh straight round at 68 or better during the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Johnson was at 7-under 203.
Chappell, one of two players at the Tour Championship who has yet to win on the PGA Tour, had a 68.
Kevin Kisner (70) and Hideki Matsuyama (71) were four shots behind, while Rory McIlroy overcame another rough start on the front nine to post a 70. He was in the group five shots behind.
If nothing else, Johnson all but eliminated nearly everyone not among the top five seeds vying for the FedEx Cup. McIlroy is No. 6 and still has a chance, though he would have to win the Tour Championship and Johnson would have to finish third.
Jason Day is out of the picture. The world's No. 1 player withdrew in the middle of a round at the second straight tournament, citing the same nagging back issues that he hopes will be cured by rest.
By Day withdrawing, Johnson won the points-based PGA player of the year award and is likely to win the player vote as PGA Tour player of the year because of his three victories, with perhaps another to follow.
NATIONWIDE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL CHAMPIONSHIP
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Tag Ridings shot a 6-under 65 for a share of the second-round lead with Martin Flores in the Web.com Tour Finals' Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship.
The 42-year-old Ridings was 52nd on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list and entered the third of four series events 36th in the race for 25 PGA Tour cards with $9,493.
Flores bogeyed the final hole for a 66 to match Ridings at 8-under 134 on Ohio State's Scarlet Course. Already guaranteed a PGA Tour card with a fifth-place finish on the Web.com money list, the 34-year-old Flores won the Lincoln Land Charity Championship in July for his first Web.com Tour title.
The series features the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings and non-members with enough PGA Tour money to have placed in the top 200 in the FedEx Cup had they been eligible.
Flores and the other top-25 finishers on the Web.com money list earned PGA Tour cards. They are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals .
The other players are fighting for 25 cards based on series earnings. The last PGA Tour card went at $33,650 in 2013, $36,312 in 2014 and $32,206 last year.
Two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton was tied for third at 6 under after a 69. He was 173rd in the FedEx Cup standings and is 63rd among the players vying for the 25 cards with $4,000.
PACIFIC LINKS BEAR MOUNTAIN CHAMPIONSHIP
VICTORIA, British Columbia (AP) – Scott McCarron birdied five of the first six holes and finished with an 8-under 62 to take the first-round lead in the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship.
The 51-year-old McCarron birdied all four par-5 holes – Nos. 1, 12, 13 and 18 – in chilly conditions at Bear Mountain Resort, the first-year venue in the PGA Tour Champions event that was played in Hawaii from 2012-14.
McCarron won the Principal Charity Classic in June in Iowa for his first victory on the 50-and-over tour after winning three times on the PGA Tour.
Doug Garwood and Jerry Smith were tied for second at 64. Garwood played the back nine in 6-under 30, and Smith had eight birdies and a bogey.
Woody Austin and Jeff Sluman shot 65, and Olin Browne and Wes Short Jr. followed at 66. Austin has three victories this year. Hall of Famers Vijay Singh and Colin Montgomerie topped the group at 67.
BAD GRIESBACH, Germany (AP) – Frenchman Alexander Levy broke the course record and opened a six-stroke lead in the suspended second round of the European Open.
Levy completed a 9-under 62 in the morning in the delayed first round and was 17 under with one hole left in the second round was play was stopped because of darkness.
Germany's Martin Kaymer, Sweden's Robert Karlsson and England's Ross Fisher were 11 under. Kaymer had a hole left, and Karlsson and Fisher had three to go.