Dustin Johnson tied for second last week at Pebble Beach, and he continued his strong play Thursday at the Northern Trust Open. Johnson leads by one after a 5-under 66, but there are plenty of names just a stroke behind. Here’s how things shape up after after play was called because of darkness in the first round.
Leaderboard: Dustin Johnson (-5), J.B. Holmes (-4 thru 16), Jimmy Walker (-4), Robert Garrigus (-4), Francesco Molinari (-4), Scott Stallings (-4), Charley Hoffman (-4), Matt Jones (-4), Brian Harman (-4), Blake Adams (-4), Sang-Moon Bae (-4), Charlie Beljan (-4)
What it means: If not for Jimmy Walker’s incredible start, Johnson could make a strong case for the player of the year so far in the 2013-2014 wraparound season. Johnson won the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in early November. He then opened 2014 with a T-6 at Kapalua and a T-2 last week at Pebble. DJ is looking for his ninth PGA Tour title.
Round of the day: With a morning tee time, very little rough and smooth greens, Johnson’s bomb-and-gouge style proved a lethal combo at Riviera. Johnson had the longest drive of the day (349 yards), was T-1 in greens in regulation and 16th in strokes gained putting.
Best of the rest: Jimmy Walker (yes, he’s at it again) leads a large group of players one stroke back at -4. Walker was playing steady golf for most of the opening round, but then he finished in style with birdies on 16, 17 and 18 to finish one back of DJ.
Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth jumped into contention when he holed out for eagle at the par-4 7th. Heading to the back nine at -3, Spieth stumbled home with bogeys at Nos. 11, 12, 13 and 18 for a back-nine 40 and a 1-over 72 total.
Main storyline heading into Friday: With an afternoon tee time, it will be interesting to see if DJ can keep the pedal down. He won’t have the benefit of perfect greens and soft conditions like he did on Thursday. Holmes (who still had two holes left when play was called because of darkness), Bradley and Walker will be among the players out early looking to take advantage of the more favorable conditions.