Dustin Johnson entered this week’s PGA Championship as the world’s top-ranked golfer, and on the heels of two straight top-2 finishes.
Great form aside, Johnson is always among the favorites at the biggest events even though he’s only secured one major victory.
Johnson shot a 3-under 67 Thursday at Bellerive Country Club, three shots behind leader Gary Woodland. Johnson reached 5 under at one point, momentarily tying Rickie Fowler for the lead, but he bogeyed two of his last five holes to fall back.
“I felt like the day was pretty solid. Hit a lot of putts. Made a few, missed a few,” Johnson said after his round. “Didn’t drive it quite as well as I’d like to. We had a bunch of — hit a few fairways, but I didn’t hit as many as I needed to if I wanted to shoot a low score.”
Johnson, normally one of the best drivers of the golf ball on Tour, hit just 57 percent of his fairways in Round 1, and he struggled out of the rough.
“I thought the course played good. It was in good shape,” Johnson said. “Greens are soft, but it’s going to be like that for the rest of the week, I feel like. You know, they still made it fairly difficult. You’ve got to hit the fairways. You’ve got to be precise when you’re coming in with your irons.
“The fairways are plenty wide. If you miss it, you mis-hit it, it’s not going to be on the fairway. You miss the fairway, you’re really going to struggle.”
Bellerive invited massive crowds Thursday with a number of featured groups stalking the fairways in both the morning and afternoon wave. Johnson enjoyed all the support.
DJ loves the St. Louis fans. ???????? pic.twitter.com/hhz2vFfuhX
— PGA Championship (@PGAChampionship) August 9, 2018
“We had big crowds out there. They were great,” Johnson said. “It’s a lot of fun to play for a big crowd. I felt like I had a lot of support.”