(Reuters) – Dustin Johnson struggled off the tee but birdied his last hole to card a second round even par 70 and cling to a one-stroke lead at 13-under par halfway through the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta on Saturday.
As top seed in the season-long points standings, Johnson started the tournament 10-under with a two-shot lead thanks to the staggered scoring system and was the overnight co-leader with Jon Rahm.
But the hard-hitting Johnson has too often found himself in East Lake’s thick rough the past two days as his usual accuracy from the tee box has been missing.
“I need to drive it a little better over the weekend if I want to win this golf tournament,” Johnson said.
“Obviously I’m still in a good position, but I’ve got to hit it in the fairway over the next two days if I want a chance to win this. I feel like everything else is really good. I feel like I’m swinging my irons well. I’m rolling it really well.
“If I can get in the fairway a few more times over the next few days, then I think I’ll be all right.”
The leaderboard below Johnson was rearranged on Saturday as South Korea’s Sungjae Im climbed into second place behind seven birdies and a bogey for a round of six-under 64 to sit at 12-under par for the tournament.
Xander Schauffele was also impressive, firing a second round 65 to sit 11-under at the tournament, which will conclude on Monday — the Labor Day holiday in the United States.
Former FedExCup champion Justin Thomas was fourth at 10-under, while PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa and England’s Tyrrell Hatton were tied for fifth at nine-under.
The winner from this week’s elite 30-player field will be crowned FedExCup champion and take home $15 million.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Ken Ferris)