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Johnson enjoys best ever Players round

12 May, 2018, 04:28 | Author: John Swanson
  • Dustin Johnson

None was anywhere near the lead at The Players Championship.

The scoring was so easy that 43 of the 72 players who teed off in the morning broke par. He shot 1-under 71. Both players - also playing in the morning wave - opened their tournaments with matching 4-under par rounds of 68.

When the dust settled, Johnson was sitting pretty in a six-way tie for the lead with former US Open champion Webb Simpson, Sweden's Alex Noren, Chesson Hadley, Matt Kuchar and Patrick Cantlay, one stroke clear of a six-strong group that included defending champion Si Woo Kim.

Dustin Johnson, his world No. 1 ranking under siege, took advantage of ideal morning playing conditions to earn a six-way share of the first-round lead at the Players Championship on Thursday. He had an MRI and said he was not sure if he would tee it up until he arrived at the course Thursday and said the wrist was feeling better but not 100 percent.

That's been the story of the TPC Sawgrass over the years - a design that doesn't favor one particular style of play.

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Johnson carded his lowest score - and first bogey-free round - at Sawgrass in 31 attempts, while closest rival and compatriot Thomas finished the day at one over par.

Woods wasn't among them.

Mickelson, 47 was even par after back-to-back birdies at the 11th and 12th holes but proceeded to post a horror run from the 14th of a double-bogey, bogey and the two further double-bogeys, including finding the water at 17, in an eventual round of a seven-over par 79. "I'm definitely surprised, but I think a lot of it has to do with putting".

Or maybe they were just bored.

The World Golf Ranking is a nice conversation piece between Sundays, though Dustin Johnson seemingly would rather others discuss it among themselves. And he putted like he was fed up with not seeing enough go in.

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He used the AimPoint method of reading greens for the first time in competition, and used a smaller version of the mallet putter that pushed him to the No. 1 ranking. He liked the results. Lahiri, who exited previous year with a disastrous 10 on the final Par-4 18th in the second round, got some revenge with a birdie on it. "You're going to have birdie opportunities every day, no matter how tough the golf course is set up, no matter how much the wind is blowing".

"I don't think I putted very well around here as a whole", Johnson said of his record at Sawgrass. "So my mindset today was just to be as smart as I can and stay away from those big numbers". So it definitely works.

"I feel like I got a good game plan around here", Johnson said. That might be a little bit different tomorrow afternoon.

Rookies and veterans alike were in the group at 67. Mitchell was the last player in the field, gaining entry on Wednesday when England's Paul Casey withdrew due to a back injury.

Starting on the back nine, he birdied the 11th from 20 feet and two-putted the driveable 12th before following a three-putt bogey at the 13th with an easy birdie four at the 16th. Also at 5 under par are 51-year-old Steve Stricker, Keith Mitchell, Andrew Landry, Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas and South Africa's Rory Sabbatini. He was irritated by a late bogey and failing to birdie the par-5 ninth, settling for a 67.

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"My expectation is the same for every tournament, I want to play well and put myself in a position to have a chance to win on Sunday".

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