RIDGELAND, S.C. (AP) — Dustin Johnson bought off to a quick begin Thursday at Congaree in his home-state Palmetto Championship, taking pictures a 6-under 65 that left him a shot behind chief Wes Roach.
Johnson, the world’s top-ranked participant and a South Carolina native, hadn’t performed since lacking the minimize the final time he teed it up within the Palmetto State on the PGA Championship on Kiawah Island final month.
Johnson appeared he would possibly maintain a share of the lead earlier than Roach, a 32-year-old looking for his first PGA Tour victory, rolled in a 19-footer for a go-ahead birdie on the sixteenth gap.
Nonetheless, Johnson had a clean, bogey-free spherical within the discipline’s first attempt on the Congaree Golf Membership because the substitute match for the canceled RBC Canadian Open, referred to as off a second straight season as a consequence of COVID-19 issues.
Roach, splitting time on the PGA and Korn Ferry excursions this season, shot his lowest PGA Tour spherical since November 2019. He was a stroke in entrance of Johnson, Doc Redman, Chesson Hadley and South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen.
Roach eagled the par-5 fourth, holing out from 105 yards on the 633-yard gap.
“I did every part fairly nicely,” Roach mentioned. “I drove it good, I putted pretty much as good as I’ve shortly and I made it … on the fourth gap, in order that was a pleasant bonus as nicely.”
Johnson was headed within the improper path on the Ocean Course three weeks in the past, lacking a significant minimize for the second time in as many months. But when anybody doubted his readiness for subsequent week’s U.S. Open, Johnson simply brushed that apart along with his stellar play over the agency fairways and curvy greens on the 4-year-old Tom Fazio course.
At Congaree, he had 4 birdies in a seven-hole stretch, all on putts 10 ft or much less together with a two-putt birdie on the drivable, 370-yard third. Johnson chipped in from 82 feet away for his ultimate birdie on No. 9 to tie Redman for the lead among the many morning starters.
Johnson was solely pondering of a par save when he hit the shot and was overjoyed — nicely, about as overjoyed because the cool, calm Johnson can get — when it disappeared within the cup for his lowest spherical since taking pictures 65 within the second spherical of the Event of Champions final January.
“I felt like I’ve been swinging nicely for some time now, simply have not actually seen the outcomes or seen the scores,” Johnson mentioned. “Made a number of putts, however yeah, I imply simply taking part in strong. Lastly put a spherical collectively.”
Redman was the primary to achieve 6 underneath with a run of 4 birdies over 5 holes on his again 9.
Hadley’s strategy on his next-to-last gap, the eighth, was 2 ft from the cup for his tying birdie.
Van Rooyen was at 7 underneath by 14 holes. He made bogey on the sixth gap to fall again.
Van Rooyen adopted up his profitable U.S. Open qualifying in Ohio earlier this week with a robust exhibiting at Congaree. He had missed his final 4 cuts together with the PGA Championship. He spent the previous three weeks eager about his efficiency and dealing his sport. van Rooyen like what he noticed Thursday.
“I feel I am simply form of going ahead,” he mentioned.
Brooks Koepka, taking part in for the primary time since ending second to Phil Mickelson on the PGA Championship, opened with a 72 and was seven photographs behind the leaders. Koepka is the one different top-10 participant on this discipline, the final earlier than the season’s third main.
Koepka’s begin wasn’t signal: the final 4 occasions he started a match over-par, he went on to overlook the minimize.
A short while after Johnson completed, he was awarded the Order of the Palmetto from Gov. Henry McMaster on the membership grounds.
“It is a big day for me and my household,” Johnson mentioned of the state’s highest honor for a civilian. “I’ve at all times been a proud South Carolinian and I at all times can be.”
Johnson mentioned he was boosted by the sturdy crowd following him, not simply right here however on the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head and the PGA Championship this season.
“I get loads of help right here in South Carolina, being a South Carolina native,” he mentioned. “And, yeah, it has been nice” to play a lot there.
“Hopefully, I can maintain it rolling for the remainder of the week,” he mentioned.
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