Dustin Johnson moved a stroke clear at the halfway stage of the Tour Championship while defending champion Rory McIlroy lost ground.
FedEx Cup leader and world No. 1 Johnson carded an even-par 70 to claim the outright lead at 13 under through 36 holes in Atlanta on Saturday.
Johnson was tied for the lead alongside world No. 2 and BMW Championship winner Jon Rahm heading into the second round at East Lake. But Johnson, The Northern Trust champion, stood alone atop the leaderboard in the FedEx Cup playoff finale following four birdies and four bogies on a mixed day as Rahm could only shoot a 74.
Johnson, a runner-up in two of his last three starts, went 13 holes without hitting from the fairway, but the American star still managed to earn a slim lead, ahead of South Korea’s Im Sung-jae. Im, who is looking to become the second-youngest winner of the FedEx Cup, birdied three of his last four holes for a 6-under-par 64.
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Xander Schauffele, last year’s Tour Championship runner-up and the 2017 winner, is two shots adrift after reeling off three consecutive birdies late in the round.
Justin Thomas (71), the 2017 FedEx Cup champion, is a stroke further back, while Collin Morikawa (65), Tyrrell Hatton (66) and Rahm are 9 under heading into the third round.
After producing the equal best round of the opening day, four-time major champion McIlroy was unable to replicate his exploits following a 1-over-par 71.
FedEx Cup and Tour Championship titleholder McIlroy, who recently became a father, struggled; the former world No. 1 bogeyed three holes, including the last.
McIlroy’s woes were highlighted by a shot that found water when he tried to reach the 18th green from thick rough. The ball went into the bottom of the lake.
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