Home Golf Dustin Johnson starts off strong with the Palmetto Championships

Dustin Johnson starts off strong with the Palmetto Championships

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Dustin Johnson got off to a fast start Thursday in the Congaree in his state’s Palmetto Championships, shooting a 6-under 65 that left him behind leader Wes Roach.

Johnson, the world’s highest-ranked player and a South Carolina native, hasn’t played since he missed the last time he played in Palmetto State at the PGA Championship on Kiawah Island last month.

Johnson looked like he might retain a share of the lead before Roach, 32 and seeking his first PGA Tour win, ran in 19ft for a lightning bolt on the 16th hole.

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However, Johnson had a smooth, stealth-free run on the first try at Congaree Golf Club, where the alternative tournament to the RBC Canadian Open, whose second season in a row was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, was cancelled.

Roach, a time splitter on the PGA Tours and Korn Ferry this season, fired his lowest run on the PGA Tour since November 2019. He had a stroke ahead of South Africa’s Johnson, Doc Redman, Chesson Hadley and Erik van Rooyen.

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Eagle Roach fourth Par 5, hiding from 105 yards on the 633-yard hole.

“I did everything really well,” Roach said. “I drove really well, I did really well like I did in a while, and I did it… on the fourth hole, so that was a nice bonus as well.”

Johnson has been going the wrong way on the Ocean Course three weeks ago, missing a big chop for the second time in as many months. But if anyone doubts he’s ready for next week’s US Open, Johnson easily ignores it with his superb play on the fixed lanes and snarling greens at 4-year-old Tom Fazio’s court.

At Congaree, he had four birdies over seven holes, all on pitches of 10 feet or less including a two-footed birdie on lead, 370 yards. Johnson blasted off 82 feet to finish his last jumper in ninth to equalize Redman for the lead between early mornings.

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Johnson was only thinking about saving when he hit the ball and was so happy – well, as thrilled as the calm and cool Johnson can get – when he disappeared into the cup for his lowest run since a 65th shot in the second round of the round. Champions League last January.

“I’ve felt like I’ve been rocking pretty well for a while now, just not really watching the results or seeing the results,” Johnson said. “Making a few hits, but yeah, I just mean playing hard. Finally, put the round together.”

Redman was the first to reach 6 under with four birds running over five holes on his back nine. Hadley’s approach to the eighth hole, which was close to the last, was about two feet from the cup relative to his stuck-up bird.

Van Rooyen was seventh through 14 holes. Make a bogey in the sixth hole to retreat.

Van Roen continued his success in the US Open qualifying in Ohio earlier this week with a solid performance at the Congaree.

He has missed the last four cuts including the PGA Championship. He’s spent the past three weeks thinking about his performance and working on his game. Van Roen like what he saw on Thursday.

“I think I’m just kind of going forward,” he said.

Brooks Koepka, who played for the first time since finishing second against Phil Mickelson in the PGA Championship, opened with 72 and was behind the leader with seven shots. Koepka is the only other player in the top 10 in the field, and the last before the third major of the season.

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Koepka’s start wasn’t a good sign: The last four times he’s started a championship too much, he hasn’t missed a cut opportunity.

Shortly after Johnson finished, he was awarded the Palmetto Medal by Governor Henry McMaster on club grounds.

“It’s a special day for me and my family,” Johnson said of the state’s highest honor for a civilian. “I have always been proud of South Carolina and will always be.”

Johnson said he had support from the strong crowd that followed him, not just here but at the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head and the PGA Championship this season.

“I get a lot of support here in South Carolina,” he said, “Being a South Carolina native” “Yeah, it was great” to play a lot there.

“I hope to keep working for the rest of the week,” he said.

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