Palmetto Championship: Dustin Johnson off to a flyer at Congaree

The American went into his local event struggling for form but found some of his best golf again with a 6-under 65 to finish round one in tied second.

World number one Dustin Johnson headed into the Palmetto Championship at Congaree as the 8/1 favourite but showing very few signs of justifying it.

DJ was in a funk; his results since late February had been those of someone outside the world's top 100.

His latest start had summed it all up: a missed cut at the PGA Championship in his home state of South Carolina.

With just seven days to go until the US Open at Torrey Pines, this week's event - a new one on the PGA TOUR - was his final chance to try and bank something positive.

Again, Johnson had home advantage although that came with a caveat. Although Congaree Golf Club was in South Carolina, he had never played it before.

His response to what he thought of it was typical DJ; he said something but he said nothing. "The golf course is really good. Played 18 yesterday and played 9 this morning. I obviously don't know the course very well, but it's in good shape. It's a fun golf course to play."

It was hardly a response that would make punters rush to put money on him and ahead of his tee-time on Thursday morning no-one quite knew what to expect.

The two-time Major winner didn't offer many clues early on with five straight pars but then the old DJ came back: Johnson played the rest of his round in 6-under, signing off with a chip-in from 81 yards to finish the day in a tie for second and just one off the lead.

Suddenly that 8/1 looked rather generous as Johnson was cut to 5/2 to take victory.

Johnson's stats in round one

Strokes Gained: Off The Tee: 2.119 (5th)

Strokes Gained: Approach: 1.720 (20th)

Strokes Gained: Around The Green:1.752 (8th)

Strokes Gained: Putting: 1.268 (33rd)

Strokes Gained: Tee To Green: 5.591 (1st)

Strokes Gained: Total: 6.859 (T2nd)

This is Johnson's lowest first-round score since winning the 2020 Masters.

It's his 17th first-round score of 65 or better on the PGA TOUR. He's gone on to win five of the previous 16 instances.

On shooting 65 but failing to birdie a par 5

"I mean, I had good looks on all three of the par 5s, so I put the ball in the right spot, just didn't make any of the putts. But still all in all it was a really solid day and I'm definitely pleased with the round."

On the key to his round

"I mean, you know, I'm playing well, I feel like I've been playing pretty good all year, just, like I said, I haven't putted well, short game's been a little off, but today I missed it in the right spots when I did miss it, but hit a lot of real quality iron shots and gave myself a lot of looks."

On playing seven consecutive holes in which his longest approach was 11 feet away

"I just hit shots, wherever it goes, it goes. But, yeah, like I said, I was swinging good today, gave myself a lot of opportunities and hit some good putts. So I'm just pleased with the way I played."

On closing with a chip-in birdie

"Yeah, it was obviously it was a good day, just felt like I played really solid, didn't really take advantage of the par-5s, even though I was in pretty good position I had really nice looks for birdie, but other than that it was just a really solid day and kind of had good control of my golf ball and put it in the right spots."

On scrambling figures of 7 out of 7

"Well obviously these greens there's a lot of times the ball rolls just off the green, but it's still a pretty good shot. So a lot of times it was with the putter and, yeah, like I said, I just left it in, missed it on the right sides of the hole and gave myself chances all the time."

On keeping his card clean

"I feel like I'm swinging well, I've been -- I felt like I've been swinging well for a while now, just haven't really seen the results or seen the scores. Made a few putts, but, yeah, I mean just playing solid, finally put a round together."

On home-state advantage

"It's been a lot of fun. Obviously I get a lot of support here in South Carolina, being I'm a South Carolina native, and, yeah, it's been great. Hopefully I can keep it rolling for the rest of this week."

On how he was able to attack the course

"I felt like I drove it really well, even the last hole I hit a really good drive it went just through the fairway and so I kind of had to play over to the left because I didn't know how it was going to come out. Obviously I made a really nice chip in there. I would have taken just an up-and-down and that would have been just fine with me, but, yeah, I hit a really good chip and it just got to the hole and went in. So, yeah, it definitely ended the day on a good note."

On his putting

"It was okay. I hit some good putts, the greens are kind of tricky to read. I mean, I even missed one short one there on the par-3 -- 5, I guess, I think is the par-3. But I hit the putt right where I wanted to, it just broke hard right and I didn't see that in the putt.

"But, yeah, it's going down my lines and my speed was pretty good today, so I'm happy with the way I rolled it. Obviously 6-under was a good score, but, yeah, I still missed quite a few short makeable putts."

On recent poor results

"I feel like I've been playing well, just haven't been scoring very good. The putting's been off or it's just like small little mistakes that you shouldn't make, so, yeah, sometimes it's taken a little bit of time away and kind of clearing my head and definitely it helps and putting in a lot of good work last week and I feel like I'm swinging good, so if I can keep the putter rolling it's going to be a fun week."

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