Northern Trust 2020: Dustin Johnson, Scottie Scheffler Shoot 60, 59 on FridayAugust 21, 2020
Far more than just the tournament lead was at stake during Friday's second round of the 2020 Northern Trust at TPC Boston in Norton, Massachusetts.
In fact, history was on the line.
PGA Tour rookie Scottie Scheffler was the first to make a run at it when he shot a 12-under 59. Nick Pietruszkiewicz of ESPN noted Scheffler, 24, became the 11th player in PGA Tour history to post a sub-60 round and the second-youngest to do so behind Justin Thomas' 2017 effort when he was 23.
However, Scheffler fell just short of Jim Furyk's record for the lowest score in a single PGA Tour round. Furyk shot a 58 at the 2016 Travelers Championship.
Dustin Johnson fell just short as well.
It appeared as if Johnson was going to not only cruise past Scheffler's earlier effort but eclipse Furyk's mark when he was minus-11 through 11 holes on the par-71 course. That meant he needed to play the final seven holes at three-under to become the first in PGA Tour history to shoot a 57.
With a par-five still remaining on the 18th, it seemed destined to happen.
Instead, he posted six straight pars on Nos. 12-17 with the last one coming when his 10' birdie putt rimmed out. Johnson's drive on that par-five 18th went into the thick rough, all but ending his chances of even tying the record with an eagle and placing his chances of breaking 60 with a birdie in jeopardy.
He settled for yet another par, showing that it is somehow possible to have a disappointing feeling after shooting an 11-under 60.
Despite the pedestrian finish, Johnson was still unbelievable for most of his round with as many eagles on the front nine as pars (two). He was six-under through the opening four holes, and it was a testament to his brilliance that notching three birdies on the next five holes constituted slowing down.
It is also a testament to Johnson's impressive play that he became the focal point of the second round even after Scheffler caught fire earlier in the day.
The rookie had zero bogeys and zero eagles, instead tallying 12 birdies with an aggressive style that allowed him to go for pins and take advantage of the scoring opportunities with his putting. Shooting better than 60 in such a fashion is apparently something he is quite familiar with, per Pietruszkiewicz:
"I shot one in the quarantine a few months ago. We were playing a socially distanced game with a few of my buddies. I didn't know I shot 59 at the time. We were riding home, and I was kind of adding everything up. I counted it up like 10 times. I texted the guy who kept the score, and he actually got my score wrong on 17 and I had something else wrong at the beginning of the round. So I don't know how we both messed it up, but we figured it out later."
The 59 shot Scheffler up the leaderboard after his solid but unspectacular one-under 70 in Thursday's opening round.
He is tied with Cameron Davis and well within striking distance of Johnson on a leaderboard that can be found in full on the PGA Tour's official website.
1. Dustin Johnson, -15
T2. Scottie Scheffler, -13
T2. Cameron Davis, -13
T4. Louis Oosthuizen, -12
T4. Danny Lee, -12
T4. Harris English, -12
While Johnson and Scheffler were vying for history, many of the sport's biggest names were battling the projected cut line of minus-three.
Tiger Woods (-3) counted himself among that group after shooting a three-under 68 in the opening round and posting two bogeys and a single birdie through 13 holes. To his credit, the 15-time major champion bounced back with two straight birdies on Nos. 14 and 15 that gave him breathing room before a bogey on No. 17.
Tony Finau (-1), Phil Mickelson (E), Bryson DeChambeau (E), Jason Day (+3) and Jordan Spieth (-2) all missed the cut, but Rory McIlroy (-3) just made it with two birdies on the back nine after shooting plus-one on the front nine. Rickie Fowler (-5) also finished strong with two birdies on his last five holes to avoid the cut.
Those who made the cut are all chasing Johnson heading into the third round and will look to be more successful than he was chasing history Friday.