Dustin Johnson sits atop the leaderboard with three others at the Northern Trust following play Friday. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo
A pair of wayward tee shots proved costly for Dustin Johnson on Friday in the second round of The Northern Trust in Old Westbury, N.Y.
As a result, Johnson found himself in a four-way tie at 6-under-par 134 with Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas atop the leaderboard in the opening FedEX Cup playoff event at Glen Oaks Club.
Johnson, who won The Northern Trust in 2011, reached 8-under before his tee shot on No. 4 was inches away from the third fairway and his next shot struck a tree. He managed to save bogey, but his next tee shot was so far left it was in the rough on the fourth hole. He two-putted from 80 feet for another bogey.
Johnson, who shot a 69 to lose ground to Vegas (65), Spieth (65) and Fowler (66), was still pleased about where he stands after 36 holes.
"Other than (the two off-target tee shots), I felt like it was a really solid day," Johnson said. "I'm really pleased with the way the golf game is right now and I'm looking forward to this weekend."
While Vegas was pleased with his second-round performance, his thoughts were with his wife, 17-month-old daughter and mother who are back in Houston and about to bear the brunt of Hurricane Harvey.
The National Weather Service expects heavy rain, flooding, strong winds and "life-threatening" storm surges, with the potential to be the worst hurricane to hit the U.S. since Katrina throttled the New Orleans area in 2005.
"It's hard. It's hard not being home, not being able to help with the house and with everything. I think I'm a little bit fortunate that we live up north in The Woodlands, and historically, by the time hurricanes come into Houston, it takes a little longer to get into Houston," Vegas said.
"But you never know what could happen. I'm in touch with them the whole day today and hopefully it will be just some precipitation but nothing more than that."
Fowler made up a five-shot deficit in six holes, highlighted by a 15-foot birdie on the last hole to join the leaders.
"I think the biggest thing is it continue to drive it well to give myself a legitimate chance this week and continue to make putts. Stuff that I think I've done well all year," Fowler said. "I would say there are some holes, certain carries and stuff like that, that open it up for DJ a little bit but by no means does that mean I can't go out and beat him."
Spieth began the back nine with five birdies before recording a bogey on the par-3 14th when his tee shot rolled into the water. He answered with a 40-foot birdie putt on 16, however.
Matt Kuchar collected four consecutive birdies and ended his round of 64 with eight birdies on the last 10 holes. Kuchar and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson (68) were one shot out of the lead.
Spaniard Jon Rahm had a 68 and was two shots behind along with England's Justin Rose (68) and first-round leader Russell Henley (72).
While 70 players made the cut at 2-over par, top-ranked Hideki Matsuyama of Japan was not one of them. Matsuyama three-putted the last hole and missed the cut by one stroke.
The cut ended the season of 14 players, a group that included Presidents Cup captain Steve Stricker and former PGA champion Jimmy Walker. Other players ranked between Nos. 101 and 125 in the FedEx Cup that have been eliminated from the playoffs were Brian Gay, Brandon Hagy, Derek Fathauer, Tyrone Van Aswegen, Harris English, Dominic Bozzelli, Nick Watney, John Huh, Blayne Barber, Ben Martin, Rory Sabbatini, J.J. Henry.
Canadian Graham DeLaet withdrew on the third hole Friday with a back injury. The former Presidents Cup member is currently No. 67 in the FedExCup standings.