NORTON, Mass. — Dustin Johnson, fresh from his come-from-behind playoff win over Jordan Spieth at last week’s first leg of the FedEx Cup series, fired a blistering 5-under 66 to take the early clubhouse lead in Friday’s opening round of stage two.
Johnson got off to a sizzling start at the Dell Technologies Championship by burying a nearly 40-foot birdie putt at the par-4 10th hole, and proceeded, under sunny skies and in a gusty breeze on a crisp fall-like morning, to blow away his first- and second-round playing partners, Jordan Spieth (72) and Justin Thomas (71).
“When you win, you’re playing well so it gives you a lot of confidence,” Johnson, whose words should send shivers down the spines of his opponents, said after signing for a score that featured five birdies, two bogeys, and an eagle on the par-5 18th (his ninth hole of the day).
“For me, one thing that was probably lacking a little bit the last few months is just the confidence, just because I wasn't seeing the shots that I wanted to see. I wasn't consistently hitting them. So the confidence was just down a little bit,” added Johnson, who is clearly over the back injury that forced him to withdraw from the Masters in April. “But you know, after last week, obviously I've got a lot of confidence now. I feel like the things I've been working on, they are back to working … I'm feeling good, so I think that's a big key for me.”
On top of ANOTHER leaderboard.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 1, 2017
66 reasons to smile. pic.twitter.com/Q0jSLesGxN
Though the other members of Johnson’s marquee group struggled (“I just don’t have much at the moment,” said reigning PGA champ Thomas. “I just didn’t have it.”), others in the morning wave put scores on the board. Among them, Kyle Stanley and Marc Leishman, each of whom posted a 67 to sit one shot back heading into Saturday’s second round.
Two guys who are now free to enjoy cookouts, the beach, or however they wish to spend Labor Day weekend that does not involve a tee time at TPC Boston, are Ryan Moore and Kelly Kraft. Moore pulled out after posting an 82, while the 12 at the par-5 second hole probably had something to do with Kraft’s withdrawal, though the official reason for his WD was a sore right foot.
"How to shoot 65 on tour," a beginners guide by Kelly Kraft:— Dylan Dethier (@dylan_dethier) September 1, 2017
-make a 12
-play 14 holes
-that's it pic.twitter.com/w2VqnqeJ64
Daniel Berger, 6-over and DFL after Moore and Kraft quit, was likely not amused by one of the more creative comments from a bleacher creature on the ninth hole (his 18th of the day), where he finished his round with a bogey.
Kid's voice rings out after Daniel Berger comes up short on birdie putt @ #DellTechChamp -"Need a little more ketchup on that burger"— Emily Kay (@golfexaminer) September 1, 2017
But back to Johnson and that eagle at 18. The world No. 1 knocked his 220-yard approach shot to some 4.5 feet and casually drained the putt.
“It was a perfect 6-iron for me,” said Johnson. “I just hit a really nice shot.”
You could say that.