Dustin Johnson got off early on Thursday morning, at The Northern Trust Open and got in the clubhouse at Riviera Country Club with the overnight lead. Play was suspended for darkness with some players still on the iconic old golf course, and the first round will be completed early Friday morning. The 29 year-old future son-in-law of NHL great, Wayne Gretsky fired a -5 under par 66 in the first round.
Starting play on the back nine, Dustin Johnson got the first of his six birdies at the 11th hole(his second) and played almost flawlessly for his opening round. He picked up his only bogey of the day at the par 3 fourth hole.
He had the longest drive of the day at 349 yards but the stat that jumps out, is his amazing 88% Greens In Regulation number, both were good for the number one ranking on Thursday.
I have always known the big kid from Columbia, South Carolina had the talent to be a star on this tour, but his short game was erratic at crucial times. He has turned that around here in the 2014 season, and it is showing up in the standings. He seems to have used his offseason to work on his game, because he has hit the road strong in the early going.
After a win at his first tournament of the year at the WGC-HSBC Championship back in November he has continued to keep his foot on the gas, and has top ten’s in every sanctioned event he played in this year. He finished T 4 at The Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Maui, and nearly picked up his third Pebble Beach Pro Am last week at Pebble Beach.
When asked about his first round at Riviera, Johnson had this to say:
The warmth meant a little more distance, such as the 349-yard tee shot Johnson hammered down the middle of 13th fairway, a slight dogleg left framed by eucalyptus trees. That left him only 97 yards, and he stuffed it. And on the par-5 17th — 608 yards up the hill, no help from wind — he reached it in two and had a two-putt from just over 20 feet. His only glitch was coming up just short of the green and in the bunker on the 225-yard fourth.
Dustin Johnson has reportedly spent his off time wisely, and got his iron game in shape as indicated by his GIR number at Riviera. He has improved that statistic in 2014 and is currently number one on the PGA Tour at 77.78% which has moved him into second place in Scoring Average on the year.
“This time, I stayed with it. I worked hard at home,” Johnson said. “It was tough at Pebble because of the weather, and it was hard to keep your concentration.”
I’m looking for some good things from Dustin Johnson this year, and expect to see his name on some leaderboards in the Majors again. He came close in 2010 at Pebble Beach before a disastrous Sunday start that gave the tournament to Graeme McDowell, and a rules violation at The PGA Championship in the same year that cost him a Wanamaker Trophy.
Dustin Johnson is currently ranked 11th in Official World Golf Rankings, and 4th in Fed Ex Cup points. He’s off to a great start, and looks like he is the man to beat this week in Los Angles. In fact. if his performance in the early going is any indication, this may well be a stellar year for Dustin Johnson.
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