JASON Day’s FedEx Cup hopes came to an abrupt end in the second round of the Tour Championship as Dustin Johnson took a stranglehold on both the tournament and the season long points race.
Day was forced to withdraw on the 8th hole with a recurring back injury while Johnson jumped to a one shot lead with two rounds to play.
The World Number One, who also withdrew from the BMW Championship with the same injury two weeks ago, had complained of feeling pain several times during an opening round 67 which had him one shot off the lead starting Friday.
But after a pulled tee shot found water on the par-4 8th, and a wild third with his driver off the deck after taking a penalty drop, Day called time on his season before finishing the hole.
The decision ended his hopes of becoming the first Australian to win the FedEx Cup though a statement released by his management said the withdrawal was a precautionary measure.
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“Jason has a strained ligament in his lower right back with muscle spasm,” the statement said.
“He withdrew as a precautionary measure. Jason should be fine with some rest after a long break in the offseason.”
While a clearly disappointed Day left the course, American Dustin Johnson moved into prime position to grab both this week’s Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup trophy and $10 million bonus.
The long hitting US Open champion dominated the BMW Championship a fortnight ago after putting a new putter in the bag and continues to look invincible through 36 holes at East Lake.
After adding a second round 67 to an opening 66 to be 7-under and one ahead of fellow American Kevin Chappell, Johnson said he felt he had played better than his scorecard reflected Friday.
“I felt like I played really, really soild today and just didn’t really get a lot out of it,” he said.
“I had some close looks that I didn’t make and I missed a short par putt on 17 and then obviously not birdieing the last hole…I felt like I left a few shots out there.
“Obviously 3-under is a great score around here and I’m never going to be upset with that but I felt like I played really well today.”
As the leader in the FedEx Cup Johnson is assured of winning the $10 million if he wins this week.
The same is true for all of the top five coming to East Lake but Paul Casey is Johnson’s nearest pursuer from that group after two days and is five strokes behind.
Day was fourth in the standings before his withdrawal while second placed Patrick Reed is 10 shots off Johnson’s lead. Adam Scott, third on the list at the start of the week, is T11 and seven behind.
They will have their work cut out if they are to catch Johnson whose confidence in all aspects of his game is high.
“I feel like I’ve got a lot of control of my golf ball,” he said. “This golf course is difficult. You’ve really got to control your irons coming into the greens around here.
“But right now I’m really comfortable with the golf swing. I feel like I’m swinging it really well.”
Johnson and Chappell are threatening to turn the tournament into a two horse race. Johnson is at 7-under while Chappell is 6, Kevin Kisner and Hideki Matsuyama next best at 3-under.
Rory McIlroy and Paul Casey are both T5 at 2-under alongside Ryan Moore while defending champion Jordan Spieth is even par and T11 in a group that also includes Adam Scott and Jason Dufner.
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