DJ trying to extend one streak, end another

By Ryan Reiterman June 2, 2016, 10:32 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio - When he was asked about the latest version of the Big 3, Memorial Tournament host Jack Nicklaus was quick to point out there are plenty of talented players not far behind Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.

Dustin Johnson reminded everyone Thursday at Muirfield Village that he is one of those players.

He made 10 birdies against two bogeys for an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead over Brendan Steele, who finished with a birdie on 17 and a hole-out eagle on 18 for a 65.

Johnson combined his massive length off the tee with some improved wedge play and added a hot putter for his lowest score in 31 rounds at the Memorial.

“With me, it has everything to do with the putter,” said Johnson, who took 26 putts in Round 1. “I rolled it well today, and you know, even throughout the year, the days I putt well, I play well. I've been working pretty hard on the putter, and I felt like it's finally starting to pay off.”

It couldn’t come at a better time.

Johnson is looking to extend one streak this week and end another in two weeks at the U.S. Open.

The 31-year-old bomber has won nine PGA Tour titles and at least one every year since 2008.

But none of those nine trophies is a green jacket, a U.S. Open trophy, a claret jug or a Wanamaker.

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Johnson’s missing major keeps him from being among the Big 3 discussion. It’s a place everyone thinks he should be - he has 11 top-10s in the majors - but for whatever reason he’s yet to get it done in one of the four biggest events on the schedule.

“I think that Dustin Johnson is arguably the most talented player on the PGA Tour,” Spieth said this week. “I think it's a matter of time. I think he's a freak athlete. I think he's not only a freak athlete, but a freak golf athlete, like he has great hands, great clubface control. I mean, he hits some shots where you won't see anybody else trying to.”

Johnson feasted on the soft and smooth greens Thursday morning as he opened with three straight birdies. After a bogey at No. 6, Johnson bounced back with another run of three straight birdies and added four more on Nos. 12-15.

“I felt like I just played well right out of the gates,” he said. “I hit great shots in the right spot on the greens and rolling in some putts. I hit it close on the first three holes and made all three of them, so that's always a good way to start your day.”

The big question over the next three rounds will be whether Johnson can keep his putter hot.

Johnson hasn’t won since the 2015 WGC-Cadillac Championship, which seems like an eternity for a player of his talent. He’s already recorded six top-10s this season and his game seems like a perfect fit for Muirfield Village.

The fairways are generous. The par 5s are not long. And the greens are some of the best on Tour.

“For the past few years, I feel like my golf game in total has been solid and consistent,” Johnson said. “Every week I feel like I'm up there, and I've got a chance to win. With this game, you've got to make putts.”

It will be the key to extending his PGA Tour winning streak, ending his major slump and perhaps vaulting to the top of the world rankings.

But Johnson is not one to look ahead to Oakmont - or back to Chambers Bay - when he has a big opportunity in front of him.

“I'm playing the Memorial,” he said. “So I've got a lot of other things to worry about than the U.S. Open. I'll worry about it when I get there.”

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

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“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”