Johnson turns rough day into 1-shot lead at East Lake

Full Screen
1 / 6

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Sungjae Im walks on the green with his ball on the 18th hole during the second round of the Tour Championship golf tournament at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA – The final hole at East Lake brought two strange sights Saturday at the Tour Championship.

First, Rory McIlroy hit a shot that toppled out of thick rough right into the water in front of him, a distance laser cameras estimated at 85 feet, 8 inches, not accounting for how far it sank to the bottom.

Then, Dustin Johnson reached his drive and could see the entire golf ball in the grass. It was in the first cut, sure, but a relief considering he didn't hit a fairway over the final three hours.

It was a rare green light for Johnson, and he hit 5-iron to 30 feet for a two-putt birdie and an even-par 70, allowing to escape with a one-shot lead over Sungjae Im at the halfway point of the chase for the FedEx Cup and the $15 million prize.

Johnson headed straight to the range to try to figure out why he hit only two fairways, though he was satisfied to have so few chances and still stay in front.

“Two different golf courses if you’re playing from the fairway or playing from the rough,” Johnson said. “Playing from the fairway you can attack the course, you can shoot a good score. Playing from where I did, it’s not so much fun. But I managed my game pretty well, and pleased with the score that I shot, especially the way I drove the ball.”

McIlroy also shrugged off his shot, in which he tried to do too much with a gnarly lie, not so much to get over the water but a bunker on the right side. It cost him a bogey for a 71 that left him five behind, though he could see a bigger picture.

“It doesn’t look like I’m going to lose any ground today anyway, which is some sort of consolation,” he said.