Dustin Johnson looks to find form at 3M Open
July 22, 2021
By Jeff Babineau , PGATOUR.COM
- July 22, 2021
- Dustin Johnson carded a first round 1-under 70 at the 3M Open. (David Berding/Getty Images)
This is about the time that Dustin Johnson hit his stride last summer. If he still were among us, Yogi Berra might tell Johnson that he should hope this is déjà vu, all over again.
Last summer, Johnson withdrew from the 3M Open after one round, citing a bad back. His game was nowhere. He’d won at Travelers, but he showed little consistency. Johnson was coming off an 80-80 showing at The Memorial and opened at TPC Twin Cities with a 78 before withdrawing and heading home to Florida. What happened from there, though, was something magical.
Johnson would tie for 12th at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, then set off on an incredible tear that would lead him to his first FedExCup title as well as a green jacket at The Masters. For seven starts, he never left the heat of contending. There were three victories in that run (NORTHERN TRUST, TOUR Championship, Masters), and three runners-up showings (PGA Championship, BMW Invitational, Vivant Houston Open).
Johnson will be first to admit he hasn’t played up to his normal standard in 2020-21. Does he see any similarities in the rhythm of the last two seasons?
“I've been driving it pretty well,” said Johnson, who surrendered his No. 1 ranking to Jon Rahm at The Open Championship. “Not as well as I was obviously when I was playing really good last season for that really long stretch, but starting to drive it better, seeing consistency with the shots and misses. You know, I feel like the iron and wedge play is what I just haven't been as sharp with. That's starting to come around.
“Last week (T8 at The Open), I felt like I hit a lot of really good shots, controlled the ball really well. So yeah, I'm starting to see a lot of similarities, and obviously that's the form I'm trying to get back to, where I felt like I had a chance to win every single week I teed it up. I feel like that's starting to get back into that form.”
Johnson had very little going in his game Thursday in the opening round of the 3M Open. He was 1 over par through 16 holes before at least closing well, canning birdies from 9 feet at the par-3 eighth (his 17th hole) and 17 feet at the difficult par-4 ninth. The late run moved him to 1-under 70, and he knows he’ll need to do something big on Friday to get back into the tournament.
“I’m hitting it very well, just need to tighten up the putter a little bit,” Johnson said.
Johnson has an old friend, longtime TaylorMade tour rep Keith Sbarbaro, on his bag this week. Johnson’s regular caddie, his younger brother, Austin, tested positive for COVID-19 and drove home at the start of the week. A.J. is expected to be back on the bag next week when his older brother plays in Memphis.