NORTON, Mass. — For the longest time Friday, it looked as if Scottie Scheffler‘s 59 might not even be the best score of the day at The Northern Trust.
As Scheffler was signing his card, Dustin Johnson had already set off on an explosive start that put some buzz into the TPC Boston even without any spectators on the course.
Birdie. Eagle. Birdie. Eagle. Birdie.
Johnson was 9 under through eight holes, and with two birdies to start the back nine, he was 11 under through 11 holes.
And then he turned into a par machine, with only two good looks at birdie the rest of the way and one decision he would like to have back. Johnson hit driver on the par-5 18th into a slope of grungy grass, when a 3-wood was all he would have needed to have a mid-iron into the green. He had to lay up, hit wedge to 25 feet and two-putted for a seventh straight par.
Johnson shot a 60, taking a 2-shot lead for the tournament, and it almost felt as though condolences were in order.
“If I hit the fairway there, it’s a pretty easy 4. But I didn’t, so shot 60,” Johnson said. “That’s OK, though. I’m pretty happy with it. Pretty happy with my position leading into the weekend.”
Johnson was at 15-under 127, two shots ahead of Scheffler and Cameron Davis (66).
Not since the John Deere Classic in 2010 have two players had 60 or lower on the same day. That contributed to Tiger Woods feeling irritated by his pedestrian 71 that allowed him to make the cut on the number and left him 12 shots back.
“I just didn’t quite have it,” Woods said. “I was close to snapping a couple clubs today, but I didn’t, so that’s a positive.”
Johnson made it look so easy that Marc Leishman, playing in his group, started wondering about the lowest score anyone ever shot. “A 59 didn’t even seem like a question,” Leishman said.
Johnson holed a 40-foot eagle putt on No. 2. He hit driver to 4 feet for eagle on No. 4. The rest of his birdie putts were in range, mostly from 12 feet or closer. And he kept making them, until the birdies dried up quickly.
Johnson missed a 12-footer on the 13th and a 10-footer on the 17th. And then he failed to make birdie on the last hole, the easiest of the day on the TPC Boston.
A 59 is no longer the record — Jim Furyk shot 58 at the Travelers Championship in 2016 — but it’s still considered golf’s magic number.
Johnson will have to wait.
“I wanted to shoot 59. I’ve never done it,” he said.
“Not that I remember,” Johnson said, breaking into a smile before adding, “and I think I’d remember that.”
Meanwhile, the FedEx Cup playoffs ended early for some two dozen players who missed the cut and were assured of not making the top 70 to advance to the BMW Championship next week. That included Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka, who withdrew before the tournament began.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.