Dustin Johnson begins sturdy at Palmetto Championship, 1 shot again of lead

RIDGELAND, SC – Dustin Johnson bought off to a fast begin in his residence state Palmetto Championship on Thursday at Congaree, taking pictures a 6-under 65 that left him one shot behind main Wes Roach.

Johnson, the world’s greatest participant and a local of South Carolina, hadn’t performed since he made the reduce in Palmetto State on the PGA Championship on Kiawah Island final month.

Johnson appeared to carry a few of the lead earlier than Roach, a 32-year-old aiming for his maiden PGA Tour win, rolled a inexperienced birdie on the sixteenth gap with a 19-foot participant.

Even so, Johnson had a easy, bogey-free spherical on his first try on the discipline at Congaree Golf Membership as a substitute match for the canceled RBC Canadian Open, which was canceled for a second straight season resulting from COVID-19 considerations.

Cut up time on the PGA and Korn Ferry excursions this season, Roach made his lowest PGA Tour lap since November 2019. He was successful forward of Johnson, Doc Redman, Chesson Hadley and South African Erik van Rooyen .

Roach conquered the par-5 quarter, taking from 105 yards on the 633 yard gap.

“I did every little thing fairly nicely,” mentioned Roach. “I drove properly, I putted in addition to I’ve for some time and I made it … on the fourth gap, that was a pleasant bonus too.”

Johnson was headed the unsuitable means on the Ocean Course three weeks in the past and missed a giant reduce for the second time in as many months. But when anybody had any doubts about their readiness for the US Open subsequent week, Johnson simply brushed that apart together with his excellent play on the agency fairways and curvy greens on the 4-year-old Tom Fazio course.

At Congaree, he had 4 birdies in a seven-hole course, all on putts of 10 toes or much less, together with a two-putt birdie on the 370-yard wheeled third. Johnson hacked from 82 feet for his final birdie in ninth place, to tie Redman for the lead among the many morning starters.

Johnson was solely considering of a par save when he hit the shot, and was overjoyed – nicely, as overjoyed because the cool, calm Johnson can get – as he got here in for his lowest spherical for the reason that sixty fifth shot within the second Spherical within the cup of the Event of Champions disappeared final January.

“I’ve felt like I have been swinging nicely for some time, simply have not actually seen the outcomes or the outcomes,” mentioned Johnson. “Did a few putts, however yeah, I imply, I simply performed stable.

Redman was the primary to hit 6 beneath with a run of 4 birdies over 5 holes on his again 9.

Hadley’s method to his penultimate gap, the eighth, was 2 toes from the cup for his tying hen.

Van Rooyen was 7 beneath via 14 holes. He bogeyed on the sixth gap so as to fall again.

Van Rooyen constructed on his profitable US Open qualifying in Ohio earlier this week with a robust efficiency on the Congaree. He’d missed his final 4 cuts, together with the PGA championship. He is spent the final three weeks occupied with his efficiency and dealing on his recreation. Van Rooyen preferred what he noticed on Thursday.

“I feel I am going to simply go ahead,” he mentioned.

Brooks Koepka, who performed for the primary time since ending second behind Phil Mickelson within the PGA Championship, opened on a 72 and was 7 strokes behind the leaders. Koepka is the one different prime 10 participant on this discipline, the final earlier than the third main of the season.

Koepka’s begin wasn’t an excellent signal: the final 4 instances he began a match over par, he missed the reduce.

Shortly after Johnson was completed, he was awarded the Palmetto Order by Governor Henry McMaster on the membership grounds.

“It is a special occasion for me and my household,” mentioned Johnson of the state’s highest honor for a civilian. “I’ve at all times been and at all times shall be a proud South Carolina.”

Johnson mentioned he was spurred on by the sturdy crowd that adopted him, not solely right here but in addition on the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head and the PGA Championship this season.

“I get a whole lot of help right here in South Carolina as a result of I am from South Carolina,” he mentioned. “And sure, it was nice” to play a lot there.

“Hopefully I can go on for the remainder of the week,” he mentioned.

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