AKRON, Ohio – Leave it to Dustin Johnson to downplay the longest drive on the PGA Tour since 2013.
Johnson uncorked a mammoth tee shot on the par-5 16th at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, barreling down a slope and ending up 439 yards from where it started. The drive was 11 yards longer than Johnson’s 428-yard bomb at Kapalua that previously stood as the season’s longest shot, and it was the longest on Tour since Phil Mickelson hit a (cart path-aided) drive 450 yards four years ago at Trump National Doral.
“I mean, you hit one solid down the middle there for me, I can get down to the bottom,” Johnson said. “I got it down there pretty nicely.”
The dazzling drive led to a birdie, although not in the way the world No. 1 expected. His 4-iron approach from the left rough caught a tree limb and came up 50 yards short of the green, from where he got up and down.
“It just nicked that tree on the left and it kind of fell down the fairway,” he said. “But it was going to be pretty good, I think, if it wouldn’t have clipped that tree.”
The birdie helped Johnson to a 2-under 68, leaving him three shots behind Thomas Pieters amid a crowded leaderboard as he looks to defend his title at Firestone Country Club and become the first player to ever win three straight WGC tournaments.
Johnson hasn’t won since reeling off three victories in a row in the spring, but he isn’t lacking confidence after a T-8 finish last week at the RBC Canadian Open.
“The game’s there, it’s there for sure. I’m starting to play golf again,” Johnson said. “I’m not out there trying to find it. I feel like I’ve got it.”