Despite strong winds and cool afternoon temperatures at Huron Oaks Golf Club, the 28-year-old Johnson carded a 9-under-par 62 and holds a two-shot cushion over Dave Pashko (Richmond Hill, ON) and Steve Pleis (Parrish, FL). Calgarys Wes Heffernan, Alex Quiroz (Mexico) and Aaron Barber (Orlando, FL) sit three strokes off the pace.
But even as Johnson mastered PGA star Mike Weirs home course, he admitted his mind was with victims of the attacks on American soil earlier this week.
Every shot, I kept thinking about what happened Tuesday-Im American and Im very proud of my country, said Johnson after firing his career-best score. Everybody says it, but it really puts things in perspective. Its hard to get mad about a bogey today.
After birdies on his opening four holes Thursday, Johnson, who has two fourth-place finishes in his four years on Tour, put an exclamation point on his day by draining a 40-foot eagle putt on the par-5 13th hole.
Like so many of his fellow players from both the U.S. and abroad, Johnson couldnt help but reflect on the tragedy unfolding south of the border, something he reasoned may have resulted in his opening round.
You know, its almost easier to play golf when your mind is elsewhere, and my mind was elsewhere every single shot today. I probably had a better attitude. Its weird how this game works-I took last week off to caddy for Aaron (Canadian Tour veteran Barber) at the Bell Canadian Open, and it worked. I usually get too up and down emotionally, but now I know there are a lot more important things in life than shooting a good round today.
Flags at Huron Oaks will fly at half-mast all weekend, and Tour players, officials and volunteers will wear green ribbons, symbolizing peace, as the tournament continues.
Full-field scores from the Bayer Championship