NORTON, Mass. — It took a disappointing par on the 13th hole for Scottie Scheffler to realize he was making enough birdies to have a shot at 59, and he seized the chance Friday with four birdies over his last five holes to post the 12th sub-60 round in PGA Tour history.
For the longest time, it looked like his 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 created some buzz at TPC Boston even without any spectators.
Birdie. Eagle. Birdie. Eagle. Birdie. He was 9 under through eight holes, and with two birdies to start the back nine, Johnson was 11 under through 11.
Then he turned into a par machine, with only two good looks at birdie the rest of the way, and one decision he'd 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 shot into the green. He had to lay up, hit a wedge shot to 25 feet away from the hole and two-putted for a seventh straight par.
Johnson shot a 60 for a two-shot lead at 15-under 127, but it almost felt as though condolences were in order.
"I'm pretty happy with it," Johnson said. "Pretty happy with my position leading into the weekend."
Australia's Cameron Davis (66) was tied for second with Scheffler, who finished with two putts from across the 18th green for his 12th birdie, knocking in his last from four feet.
"You don't really get a putt for 59 often, so I was quite nervous over the putt, but that's nothing new," said Scheffler, a 24-year-old rookie from Texas. "I get nervous over every shot. That's just playing competitive golf."
A 59 is no longer the record — Jim Furyk shot a 58 at the Travelers Championship in 2016 — but it's still considered golf's magic number. This is the fifth straight year with a 59 or better on the PGA Tour, but not since Paul Goydos (59) and Steve Stricker (60) at the 2010 John Deere Classic have two players shot 60 or lower on the same day.
Friday's results were decidedly mixed for the three Baylor School graduates in the tournament.
Harris English, who shared the lead after opening with a 64 on Thursday, remained in contention with a 66 that had him tied with Australia's Danny Lee (64) and South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen (65) for fourth at 12 under. At 27th in the FedEx Cup standings, being among the top 70 who advance to the next leg of the PGA Tour's playoffs is not a concern, but he would no doubt love to do so on the strength of a victory.
Keith Mitchell (68) was tied for 40th at 5 under, but at 105th in the standings, he needs a big weekend. Luke List, who was 116th in the standings, won't get that chance after a 75 that left him four shots over the cut line, which was at 3 under.
Playoff over quickly
RIDGEDALE, Mo. — Shane Bertsch eagled the first hole of a four-man playoff to win the Charles Schwab Series at Bass Pro Shops Big Cedar Lodge in his second PGA Tour Champions start.
Bertsch hit an approach shot from the rough near the back edge of a bunker that took some big bounces in front of the green and rolled to 20 feet from the back pin on Buffalo Ridge's par-5 first hole. The downhill slider slowly made its way to the hole.
Kenny Perry lost a one-stroke lead on the par-5 18th, making a bogey after driving left into deep rough under trees, to fall into the playoff with Bertsch, Glen Day and German senior legend Bernhard Langer.
Four strokes ahead of playing partners Langer and Perry after opening with two 64s, Bertsch closed with a 1-over 72 to match Perry (68), Langer (68) and Day (66) at 13-under 200 after 54 holes of regulation play.
The 50-year-old Bertsch, a three-time winner on the Korn Ferry Tour, made his senior debut three weeks ago with a tie for 45th in The Ally Challenge in Michigan.
Fighting through it
TROON, Scotland — As if Royal Troon Golf Club isn't playing hard enough for the world's top-ranked women this week, Dani Holmqvist is going around the wind-swept Scottish links battling a nagging back injury.
It didn't stop the 32-year-old Swede leading the Women's British Open after two rounds in a bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.
On another tough day — first-round leader Amy Olson posted a 10-over 81 — Holmqvist shot a 1-under 70 in windy morning conditions to be the only one in the 144-player field under par after 36 holes. At 1-under 141, she was a stroke ahead of American golfer Austin Ernst (70) and Germany's Sophia Popov (72).
Holmqvist has missed the cut in 13 of the 20 events she has played since the golf cart in which she was riding on at an LPGA Tour tournament in November 2018 lost control and slammed into a wall, leaving her with injuries that still require treatment.
Syme's second shot
NEWPORT, Wales — Connor Syme moved into position to make up for last weekend's near miss at Celtic Manor by taking a two-shot lead through two rounds of the Wales Open, which is being played at the same venue.
The 25-year-old Syme, who is from Scotland, battled wind and rain to shoot a 1-under 70 and move to 6-under 136 overall in his bid for a first European Tour tournament title after winning once on the developmental Challenge Tour.
England's Jordan Smith, who shared the first-round lead with Syme, had a 72 and dropped into a tie for second place with five others: Spain's Nacho Elvira (67), China's Li Haotong (66), Scotland's Liam Johnston (68), the United States' Sihwan Kim (67) and Sweden's and Sebastian Soderberg (70).
Syme led by a shot after 54 holes of the Celtic Classic last weekend, but he had to settle for a share of third place after closing with a par round and finishing three shots out of the lead.