U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson is the frontrunner for player of the year honors, but he got off to a mediocre start in the first two rounds of The Barclays while breaking in a new driver after cracking the club that carried him to two wins and No. 2 in the world at the PGA Championship.
On Saturday, Johnson shot a third-round 67 that left him 4 under par for the tournament, just five shots from the lead.
“You’ve got to drive it straight,” Johnson said of Bethpage Black. “My driver that I’ve been playing so well with this year, it’s got a few cracks on the top of the face. It’s gone, so, I’m using a new driver this week. I’m trying to get used to that.”
Johnson reached 5 under par, but bogeyed the tricky 411-yard par 4 18th hole for the third straight day. “It’s not (tough),” Johnson said. “I just hit terrible tee shots every single day. If you miss the fairway, they are tough.”
Phil thrills early, falters late
With an early starting time, Phil Mickelson had the crowd buzzing with a 4-under-par 32 on the front nine. That’s where he stood through 16 holes, but Mickelson bogeyed the par-3 17th and double-bogeyed the 18th to finish with a 70 that left him at even par for three rounds with little hope of contending.
“It’s very difficult to make a number of birdies out here, and so to give three shots away in two holes is very disappointing,” Mickelson said. “Today was an opportunity I let slide to move up the leaderboard and get in position.
Fake announcer bounced
There was an incident at the par-3 14th hole where a fan wearing a fake CBS-TV blazer posed as an announcer and tried to interview Jim Furyk before caddie Mike (Fluff) Cowan intervened. Furyk laughed it off but said, “Mike got a little frustrated.” A PGA Tour spokesman said, “The guy had a silly microphone with glitter on it. The police said he was escorted out peacefully.” . . . Adam Scott and Charl Schwartzel both started their rounds by holing out from the fairway for an eagle two at the par 4 first hole.