OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — Jordan Spieth didn't get out to a vintage start on Thursday at The Northern Trust, sitting five back after an opening round one-under 69. Much like in the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, Spieth flipped the switch, playing the next 36 holes in 11 under, including Saturday's six-under 64 at Glen Oaks Club. He sits at 12-under 198 and leads by three strokes over Dustin Johnson.
After bogeying the difficult par-4 first hole and making par at second, Spieth got hot, making birdies at the third, fifth, seventh and eighth holes. Just when it looked like he'd make another at the ninth, he instead walked away with bogey after three-putting from eight feet. Still, he was able to refocus, immediately bouncing back with a birdie at the 10th and picking up three more at 14, 15 and 16 as he cruised to the clubhouse.
This is the 15th time Spieth has held a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour, and he's converted nine of the last 10. A win tomorrow would give him his fourth of the season in just his 20th start.
Johnson, 33, carded a round of three-under 67 that got him to nine-under 201 for the tournament. After going two under on his opening five holes, it appeared as if the World No. 1 would be the guy running away from the field, but he played his next 12 holes in even par. He was able to finish strong though, sticking his approach shot to three feet at the 18th and rolling in the birdie. Johnson is also looking for his fourth win of the season.
Paul Casey, Patrick Reed Matt Kuchar and Jon Rahm are all five back at seven-under 203. Of the group, Reed was the only one without a bogey, posting a round of four-under 66 that featured birdie putts of 15, 13 and 18 feet. The putter has been working all week for the defending champ, who ranks third in the field in putts per green in regulation.
Casey, 40, also carded a four-under 66, his low round of the week and third straight under par. The Englishman is still in search of only his second PGA Tour victory, the last coming at the 2009 Shell Houston Open.
Spain's Rahm posted a three-under 67, while Kuchar carded a two-under 68.
Six back is Keegan Bradley thanks to a bogey-free four-under 66 that has him at six-under 204 for the tournament. The 2011 PGA champion has quietly put together a respectable season, with five top-10s and 10 top-25s. A strong Sunday finish at The Northern Trust could get him into the top 25 of the FedEx Cup standings, where he currently sits at 46th.
Matching Spieth's six-under 64 was Presidents Cup bubble boy Kevin Chappell, who sits at five-under 205 in a tie for eighth with England's Justin Rose.
Seven players are eight back at four-under 206, including Justin Thomas, Jason Dufner and Bubba Watson.