MARANA, Ariz. -- Sweden's Alexander Noren, a 13th seed, beat fourth-seeded Dustin Johnson of the U.S., 6 and 4, in the first round.
Noren, making just his second start in this event, will now play Graeme McDowell in the second round of the Jones bracket.
After a bogey on the first hole, Noren played as well as anybody on the course Thursday. He was bogey-free for the rest of the round and posted seven birdies on his card. He was 3 up through six holes, 4 up through eight, and played even better on the back nine.
He reeled off four consecutive birdies starting at the 10th hole, making bbirdie putts of 6-1/2 feet, 9 feet, 2-1/2 feet and 4 feet.
"I played great," Noren said. "I was really happy with my game and hit a lot of greens ... It was a lot of fun."
Dustin Johnson is a two-time winner at Pebble Beach. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Insider
This week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am features five of the top seven in all-time earnings at the event, but my choice for a one-and-done is easy.
Two-time winner Dustin Johnson sits third in all-time earnings here. It's also the tournament where he pocketed the most money over any other. With another two top 10s and a spirited run at Pebble Beach at the 2010 U.S. Open, he's a no-brainer of an investment and thus my choice this week.
You could make an argument that his recent form and budding romance with Paulina Gretzky are distractions, but I'll contend that it's a positive that his amateur partner this week is Paulina's father, Wayne. That dynamic should offer for a relaxed environment at a site where Johnson is already comfortable.
Others to consider:
With four wins and $4.584 million in earnings, Phil Mickelson owns a commanding lead over Vijay Singh in second place on that list. I've always advised to save Mickelson for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola (or the Masters if you just don't want to wait or roll the dice in the postseason due to the vagaries of the FedExCup Playoffs). So, I'm holstering the 2012 winner of this tournament even though I allow myself to burn one defending champ during the course of the season.
Singh's reported back injury and situation as it relates to deer antler spray scare me. We can't rule out him contending, but one-and-done selections must be handled with care.
Mike Weir (fifth) and D.A. Points (seventh) round out the final two inside the top seven in all-time earnings. After that duo, you need to dig down to No. 13 to find the next on the list in this week's field, Hunter Mahan. He also makes some sense this week but historically he's flashed more consistency at warm-weather sites. Mahan is also a guy that you could reserve for East Lake.
Last week: Rickie Fowler; MC; $0.00
Overall Record: 4-for-5
Top 5s: 2
Top 10s: 3
Top 25s: 4
Missed Cuts: 1
The candidates for the PGA TOUR's Player of the Month presented by Avis for January are in. Here is a closer at each of their performances, and you can vote for your favorite player here. You can also share your thoughts below.
Tiger Woods: Won his only start of the season, finishing at 14 under to coast to a four-shot victory at the Farmers Insurance Open, which he's now won seven times.
Dustin Johnson: Opened the season with a victory at the winners-only Hyundai Tournament of Champions, which was shortened to three rounds because of weather. He withdrew due illness in his next start at the Sony Open in Hawaii and finished in a tie for 51st at Torrey Pines.
Brian Gay: Shot final-round 63 in come-from-behind win at the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. Tied for 31st in his only other start of the month at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Russell Henley: Won in his first start as a professional on the PGA TOUR, carding three 63s on his way to capturing the Sony Open in Hawaii. Finished in a tie for 51st the following week at PGA West.
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.com Equipment Insider
LA QUINTA, Calif. — Dustin Johnson isn’t in the field at the Humana Challenge, but that didn’t stop him from stopping by the TaylorMade truck early in the week to pick up a new set of fairway woods.
The seven-time PGA TOUR winner was in town on Monday and Tuesday for a Dick’s Sporting Goods/Golf Galaxy photo shoot and had the staff build him three RBZ Stage 2 Tour fairway woods with Aldila RIP 90 Alphia X shafts — 14.5 degree 3-wood, a 16.5 3-wood with high loft and 18.5 degree 5-wood — to test during his off week before his third start of the season at the Farmer Insurance Open.
Johnson, who currently plays an R11S (15.5 degrees) and R9 (19 degrees) with Aldila RIP 90 Alphia X shafts, had a chance to test the new fairway woods out on Tuesday before taking them home for the week.
Dustin Johnson will not open the 2013 season with back-to-back victories.
Johnson, who won the weather-shortened Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Tuesday, withdrew from the Sony Open in Hawaii midway through his second round on Friday in Honolulu.
Golf Channel reported that Johnson was suffering from flu-like symptoms.
Johnson opened with a 70 in Round 1.
Beginning with this week's Sony Open in Hawaii, each FedExCup tournament will provide a special bib for the FedExCup points leader’s caddie to wear during competition rounds. This bib will be used only if the leader of the current FedExCup standings is in the field.
The bib will have orange accents on the shoulders and pocket.
After winning the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Dustin Johnson came to Waialae as the FedExCup points leader. That meant his caddie, Bobby Brown, became the first caddie to win the special orange bib this year in Thursday's opening round of the Sony Open (photo below by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR).
By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, PGA TOUR Academy
The first tournament of the year is finally in the books and Dustin Johnson is back on top after capturing the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
You get the feeling that with Johnson fully healthy again this could be a very special year for the long-driving young American.
Not only does Johnson display great power, he can be extremely accurate. One of the positions that sets the stage for this potent combination is when the club shaft gets halfway back during the backswing and parallel to the ground. At this point, Johnson’s club shaft sits relatively parallel to his stance line. This alignment and relationship to the stance line is important for accuracy as he is able to get the entire shaft on plane immediately.
One of the most common errors for amateurs at this point in the swing is to get the clubhead too far behind the hands. This gets the clubhead under the plane and requires more compensation to re-establish the proper swing plane.
With the club shaft on-plane early in the backswing, Johnson also fully assembles his wrist hinge. At this point, his right wrist is bent towards the back of the wrist with the left wrist towards the top of the wrist. In addition, you will also notice how his right elbow is bent to support the wrists, creating significant angles between the club shaft and both forearms. These angles are critical in the creation of power.
This position during the backswing is one that most all of us can learn from and achieve. With a solid wrist hinge and the club shaft on-plane, you, too, can get off to a good start in the swing to produce power and accuracy.
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction at the TOUR Academies at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the TOUR Academy, click here.
By Ann Miller for PGATOUR.COM
KAPALUA, Maui — Dustin Johnson went from wire-to-windy-wire at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Tuesday, winning the PGA TOUR’s first event of 2013 by four shots over defending champ Steve Stricker.
Johnson closed with a 5-under 68 at the Kapalua Plantation Course, which was blown into submission the first three days. Gusts of more than 50 mph forced officials to start the tournament Monday with 36 holes and end it Tuesday with 18 more.
It was an ideal situation for Johnson, who has now won the TOUR’s last three 54-hole tournaments.
“I’ve got a long way to go,” grinned Johnson, 28, “but I will be ready for the Champions Tour.”
His three-round total of 16-under 203 was four shots better than Stricker, who closed with a 69. Johnson has now won TOUR events in six straight years, since coming out of college.
Tiger Woods is the only other golfer who can make that claim. And only Phil Mickelson, who has won events the last nine years, has a longer annual streak. That is fast company.
“He’s very athletic and he’s just going to continue to get better,” Stricker said. “That’s going to be the fun part watching is what he’s going to do from here on out, because he looks unflappable out there. He hit a couple wayward drives and opened the door for me a little bit, and then he stepped up there with a driver again, and I’m like, OK. But then he piped it and chips it in.”
That came on the 14th hole. Stricker was five back after seven, but cut his gap to two at the turn with a couple birdies and Johnson’s bogey on the ninth, where he drove into a hazard.
Johnson padded his advantage with a birdie on the 12th, blasting his drive more than 400 yards and sinking a 12-foot birdie putt. He made just two putts that were longer all week, aside from a 25-footer from the fringe Tuesday that counted as a chip-in.
His next chip-in was the most decisive shot of the long week.
Johnson hit into another hazard on the 13th, found his ball but hit it just four feet, leading to double-bogey. Stricker missed a 25-foot birdie putt that could have tied it there, but Johnson’s advantage was down to one with five holes left.
He grabbed his driver again on the next hole, blasted the ball 267 yards through the wind about 50 feet short of the hole, and nearly knocked over the weather-whipped pin for eagle.
“The chip on 14 was definitely the biggest shot,” Johnson said. “Maybe the drive; the drive set it up all. I hit a great drive right at the flag, which came up just short, and I had a really easy pitch. Fortunate to hit a great pitch and it went right in the middle.”
Johnson won $1.14 million and 500 FedExCup points to take the early-season lead. Kyle Stanley finished last in the 30-man field and collected $61,000.
They now head to the Sony Open in Hawaii, which tees off Thursday. Johnson has top-20 finishes at Waialae Country Club in both previous starts.
How bright is his future?
“I don’t really look ahead that far,” Johnson said. “I kind of go week-to-week. I’m looking at next week where I want to go in and play three good rounds and then contend on Sunday for another victory. That’s my goal.”
Then he fired a shot heard ‘round the PGA TOUR.
“If I keep playing golf like I’m playing right now, then, you know,” Johnson said, “obviously there is no limit.”
Dustin Johnson hits his final drive on the par-5 18th on Tuesday at Kapalua. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider
Dustin Johnson’s four-shot win at the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions earned him a return trip to Maui next year for the winners-only event.
But Johnson wasn’t the only winner on Tuesday -- TaylorMade Golf also picked up a big win as Johnson notched his seventh PGA TOUR victory using the company’s R1 driver, which was released on Jan. 3.
Johnson employed a 10 degree R1 with a neutral face angle and an 8-gram shot shape weight in the toe and 2-gram shot shape weight in the heel for the 54-hole tournament. He averaged 275.9 yards off the tee and recorded a 405-yard drive during the final round, which was the longest in the field during Tuesday’s final round.
He also became the second player to win with TaylorMade’s RocketBladez Tour irons, joining Sergio Garica, who captured the Johor Open in December.
Even though Johnson spent some time working with the irons during the offseason, he felt his irons were a bit too upright and had the entire set bent 1 degree flatter prior to the first round.
Dustin Johnson’s bag at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions:
DRIVER: TaylorMade R1 (10°) with a Fujikura Fuel 2.0 X shaft
FAIRWAY WOODS: TaylorMade R11S (15.5°) and R9 (19°) with Aldila RIP Series X shafts
IRONS: RocketBladez Tour (3-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
WEDGES: TaylorMade TP xFT (54°, 60°) with with KBS Back Nickel shafts
PUTTER: Scotty Cameron for Titleist Newport prototype
BALL: TaylorMade Penta TP5