A birdie at the first for the American, along with a bogey for McIlroy, and Johnson was again in contention at the Open Championship before a familiar development derailed his title hopes.
Johnson limped into the turn, making bogey at Nos. 7, 8 and 9 to slip six strokes off the lead.
At the 2011 Open, Johnson was within two strokes of another Northern Irishman late on Sunday when he pushed his second shot at the par-5 14th hole at Royal St. George’s out of bounds and eventually finished three shots behind eventual champion Darren Clarke.
Johnson rallied with three birdies over his final six holes to finish with a 1-under 71 and will begin Sunday’s final round seven strokes off the lead.