Merritt ties course record for early lead at Northern Trust

Troy Merritt took advantage of rain-softened Liberty National by tying the course record with a 9-under 62 to take a one-shot lead among early starters Thursday in The Northern Trust.

Dustin Johnson ran off four straight birdies late in his round for a 63.

Hardly anyone was there to watch — and not just because fans were following Tiger Woods misfire on his way to a 75. Storms were so strong on the eve of the FedEx Cup playoffs opener that gates were closed to fans until 10 a.m., some three hours after the round began.

Merritt is No. 72 in the FedEx Cup and needs to be among the top 70 to advance next week and keep alive hopes for the $15 million prize to the FedEx Cup winner.

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