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January 3 2014

11:39 AM

Johnson's tweaked neck improves

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Dustin Johnson will defend his title at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions this week at Kapalua.

By PGATOUR.COM staff

Dustin Johnson headed to Hawaii a few days early to prepare for his title defense at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Turns out the four extra days of practice might have been a good thing, too, after Johnson tweaked his neck when he "slept weird on it." He hasn't played since Tuesday, as a result, and missed Thursday's pro-am.

But Johnson says he expects to be fine by today's 5:50 p.m. ET date with Adam Scott in the marquee pairing in the first round at Kapalua.

"I went and got some medicine, I started taking them last night, so it's definitely helped," Johnson said on Thursday afternoon. "The aggravation has gone down severely, and Coach (Chris) Noss, my trainer has been working on it, and it's feeling a lot better right now."

Johnson got a head start on the PGA TOUR's 2013-14 wrap-around season when he won the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champion in November. He has now won at least one tournament in each of the last seven seasons.

"It's always great to get off to a good start," Johnson said. "Obviously I played really well here last year, so hopefully I'll continue it this year. I really like this golf course. I think it sets up very well for me. I'm excited about this year."

Johnson's 26-year-old brother Austin will be caddying for him this year. He was on the bag for the win in China but Johnson acknowledges his brother -- whom he calls his best friend -- is still learning the nuances of the job.

"I like having him out there with me," Johnson said. "He gives me a lot of confidence and he's still got a lot of stuff to learn about caddying because he hasn't been doing it for very long.

"It actually kind of helps me because then I pay more attention to what I'm doing, instead of just relying on (his former caddy) to do everything. I'll do my numbers and I'll kind of look where the flag is and make sure everything is correct. So you know, it kind of slows me down a little bit and makes me actually think about what I'm doing."

Johnson also said he and his fiancee, Paulina Gretzky, are planning a fall wedding, although no date has been set.

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