It’s becoming a serious case of de-ja-vu. Dustin Johnson is once again leading a major championship after the first round. It’s like his erases everything from his memory until the weekend and then it all floods back to play havoc with his scoring.
The American carded an impressive six under, 66, albeit he teed off in the better morning conditions, to take the outright lead after day one. The 31-year-old made two birdies in his first two holes before an eagle on the 16th moved him to four under. Three birdies and a bogey was to follow as he moved away from the pack and heads into Friday one shot ahead of David Lingmerth.
However, for those who have backed Johnson this week, or any of the last six major championships, will know not to count their blessings too soon. Two months ago at the U.S. Open, he began the opening round with a 65. He did the same at the Open Championship to end the first day at the top of the leaderboard. In fact, he has become only the third man to lead three consecutive majors after the first round.
At the end of the day, even after his terrific opening round scoring, he has still drawn blank when chasing a major win. Remarkably, in his last six majors, Johnson has played the opening two rounds to -35, only to reach the weekend where he is six over par.
So can Johnson finally battle his demons this time around and close the deal? There is still a long way to go but you wouldn’t bet against him extending his lead on Friday before all the questions will be asked whether he is mentally strong enough. Lets not forget about what happened at Whistling Straits in 2010. He had a one shot lead heading into the final hole at the PGA Championship and looked on course to win his first major. However, he grounded his club in the controversial bunker resulting in a two stroke penalty before Martin Kaymer took full advantage.
The PGA have covered that specific bunker with a grandstand this year so Johnson won’t have flashbacks of that time he came so close but he needs to be mentally prepared for the weekend. As Gary Player once said: “A great mind is one of the key components that separates the great from the good.”
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