SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – Dustin Johnson stood in the Baltusrol Golf Club parking lot and could only muster a half-hearted shake of the head as he recounted for a handful of reporters his startling opener at the PGA Championship.
“Just a rough day,” he said. “Anything that can go wrong, did.”
Johnson was considered one of the tournament favorites entering the week, having won the U.S. Open just six weeks ago and having captured the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in his very next start.
But the awe-inspiring play that guided him to wins at Oakmont and Firestone wasn’t on display Thursday in New Jersey, where Johnson ballooned to a 7-over 77. The score matched his worst total since a final-round 80 at Torrey Pines in January and left him ahead of exactly five players – three of whom are PGA club professionals.
“Felt like I hit some good shots that ended up bad. Just a tough day,” Johnson said. “It just seemed like if I got out of position at all, it was just in a really bad spot.”
Johnson’s first bobble came on the third hole, where he made double bogey. But things escalated on Nos. 5-7, where Johnson made three - what he called - “bad bogeys” in a row.
His lone birdie came on the par-3 ninth hole, and Johnson ended his day by putting a 2-iron in the water off the tee on the par-5 18th; he was penalized for an attempt to hit a rare hook to set up a potential eagle bid.
Despite drifting 12 shots off Jimmy Walker’s lead and appearing headed for an early exit, Johnson doesn’t plan to dwell on a round that temporarily cooled his torrid run through the summer schedule.
“Tomorrow’s another day. Come out and I’ve just got to shoot a good number,” he said. “I felt like I had good practice rounds, and this morning I had a good warm-up session. Just struggled. It’s simple. It’s nothing that’s off by too much.”
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