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Dustin Johnson alone atop leaderboard at Tour Championship

ATLANTA — Dustin Johnson is playing better than anyone in the world, and Kevin Chappell can't wait to watch him at the Tour Championship.

Even if that means having to beat him.

Johnson powered down the fairways and occasionally out of brutal rough Friday at East Lake for 3-under 67, giving him a one-shot lead over Chappell and moving him one round closer to the $10 million FedEx Cup prize.

The U.S. Open champion is on a different level at the moment.

Even on a demanding test such as East Lake — only 10 players remain under par — Johnson is hitting his driver long and straight. His wedge game has gone from a weakness to a strength. A new putter is giving him a better feel for alignment.

"The game is never easy. I wish it was," he said. "Obviously, I'm playing good right now. I've got a lot of confidence in my game."

Johnson was at 7-under 203.

Chappell (68) one of two players in the field with no PGA Tour wins, had only one bogey in 36 holes.

Kevin Kisner (70) and Hideki Matsuyama (71) were four shots behind and Rory McIlroy (70) was five back on a course with "the hardest rough we've played in years," according to Phil Mickelson — who, at 6-over 146, was ahead of just two players.

World No. 1 Jason Day withdrew in the middle of a round at the second straight tournament, citing the same nagging back issues. With Day's withdrawal, Johnson clinched the points-based player of the year award.

And with Day out, four players can clinch the FedEx Cup by winning Sunday: Johnson, Paul Casey (tied for fifth), Adam Scott (T-11th) and Patrick Reed (T-19th).

Champions: Scott McCarron birdied five of the first six holes and shot 8-under 62 for a two-shot lead after one round at the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship in Victoria, British Columbia.

Uh-oh: Love says U.S. team might be best ever

ORLANDO — Ryder Cup captain Davis Love feels so good about the American team that he said it might be the best ever.

"We're a great team," Love said Friday on Sirius/XM's Fairways of Life. "This is the best golf team maybe ever."

Love, who added that the U.S. team at times tries too hard to win the Ryder Cup, said his team doesn't have to do anything "superhuman."

The 1981 Ryder Cup team that beat Europe 18½ to 9½ is regarded as the best in U.S. history. It featured Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Ray Floyd, Hale Irwin and Johnny Miller. Only one of the 12 players — Bruce Lietkze — never won a major.

Europe goes for its fourth straight victory — and sixth in the past seven Ryder Cups — next week at Hazeltine in Minnesota.

Times wires

Dustin Johnson alone atop leaderboard at Tour Championship 09/23/16 [Last modified: Friday, September 23, 2016 10:14pm]
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