US Open: Dustin Johnson halfway towards a second Major title

Shinnecock Hills can’t rock DJ as world number one shoots a second round 67

 Dustin Johnson  celebrates making a birdie on the seventh hole as Tiger Woods  looks on during the second round of the US Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club  in Southampton, New York. Photograpgh: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Dustin Johnson celebrates making a birdie on the seventh hole as Tiger Woods looks on during the second round of the US Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York. Photograpgh: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

 

The past, the present and the future all shook hands when it was over. They were on the ninth green and a second round which had taken us by surprise, with low-lying grey clouds which doused unsuspecting t-shirted spectators and some players who’d neglected to include raingear or even umbrellas in their planning for the day, had acted as a showcase for Dustin Johnson’s golfing majesty; he is, most assuredly, the man of the present.

Tiger Woods, the greatest player of his generation, someone with 14 Major titles to his name, must have looked at Johnson and thought of himself in the past. A dominant figure, in control of his own destiny.

Justin Thomas, only 25, but already with a Major title in his possession, knows what it is like to be the world number one. It was he who possessed the honour before Johnson reclaimed it last month. Thomas will have his day again in the future. But after a second round watching the current incumbent in action, Thomas described what he’d witnessed in simple terms. “He’s just hitting the fairways, keeping it in front of him, and he’s playing DJ golf.”

DJ spins things to his own tune these days. And, after his runaway win in the FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis last week, Johnson has kept going on in his own world, his own zone. The 6-feet 4-inch American - who can bomb it off the tee, but who also possesses soft hands when required in the short game - shot a second round 67 for a midway total of four-under-par 136 that put him in a different place to everyone else.

Woods, who once upon a time was the man everyone stood back to admire, admitted of his usurper: “Dustin is in complete control of what he’s doing. He’s hitting the ball so flush and so solid. It was good to see because I watched a little bit of it last week (on television) and he was doing the same thing down there, but he’s brought it up here and is doing it under these conditions, and he’s got beautiful speed on the greens. Every putt looked like it was going to go in. Even though it didn’t, (they) just had that look and that pace.”

For all the world, it seemed as if Johnson was at times playing a different course. The rough didn’t exist. What bunkers? And when he did get out of position, he accepted his medicine and provided his own cure. On the 13th and 14th holes - the fourth and fifth of his round, having started on the 10th - Johnson’s short game enabled him to get up-and-down by pitching and putting for pars. On the 17th, he made a sand save. On the 18th, he rolled in a 12-footer to save par. When he had to, he found a way to grind a score.

Shane Lowry carded a nine-over 79 and will miss the cut at the US Open in New York. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images
Shane Lowry carded a nine-over 79 and will miss the cut at the US Open in New York. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

But, for the most part, Johnson’s game was played with a freeness that was at odds with the elements. He talked to his brother, Austin; who is also his caddie. He talked to Tiger. He talked to Justin. Most of all, he kept in his own world and played the shots that needed to be played; 67 of them in total.

JT, the PGA champion, watched much of it as he went about his own business. “He’s playing well. You know, he’s gotten a couple breaks, just things here and there. It happens any time anybody wins, to be perfectly honest. But it’s not anything groundbreaking or anything crazy. It’s just, you know, we’re all fortunate when we hit a ball offline and have to look for it that we have a couple more people to help look than other groups or if I would be playing a couple years ago. So it is what it is,” said Thomas.

Johnson - a winner of the US Open at Oakmont two years ago, when he made the most of a break that enabled him to gain relief (back onto a fairway) after his drive into the heavy rough in the final round was blocked out by a television tower - has mostly made his own breaks, though, in his quest to claim a second Major of his career.

“You’ve got to play really good golf if you want to shoot a good score, and I like where par is a good score on every hole no matter what club you got in your hand, what hole it is. A par is a really good score,” said Johnson of plotting his route to a possible win.

For the past two days, DJ had the eyes of Woods and Thomas on his each and every move. “It doesn’t matter who I’m playing with, I want to play well. I felt like I played really well the first two days . . . as I get older, I want to make things as easy as possible, even though they don’t get any easier, but just easier on myself,” said Johnson, who kept his focus on the task to hand. He’s halfway there.

LEADERBOARD
USA unless stated, par 70, (a) denotes amateurs
136
Dustin Johnson 69 67
140 Charley Hoffman 71 69, Scott Piercy 69 71
141 Brooks Koepka 75 66, Justin Rose (Eng) 71 70, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 75 66, Ian Poulter (Eng) 69 72, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 71 70
142 Russell Henley 69 73, Rickie Fowler 73 69
143 Marc Leishman (Aus) 74 69, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) 73 70, Charles Howell III 71 72
144 Pat Perez 73 71, Jason Dufner 70 74, Alex Noren (Swe) 72 72, Brian Harman 74 70, Justin Thomas 74 70, Jim Furyk 73 71, Mickey DeMorat 72 72, Calum Hill (Sco) 75 69, Patrick Rodgers 72 72, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 73 71, Tyler Duncan 77 67, Russell Knox (Sco) 73 71
145 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 75 70, Branden Grace (Rsa) 76 69, Ryan Fox (Nzl) 73 72, Brendan Steele 72 73, Bryson DeChambeau 76 69, Jimmy Walker 75 70, Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 75 70, (a) Will Grimmer 73 72, Patrick Reed 73 72
146 Andrew Johnston (Eng) 73 73, Zach Johnson 73 73, Xander Schauffele 72 74, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 74 72, Dylan Meyer 77 69, Patrick Cantlay 75 71, Aaron Baddeley (Aus) 74 72, Phil Mickelson 77 69, Paul Casey (Eng) 73 73, Chris Naegel 73 73
147 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 75 72, Ross Fisher (Eng) 76 71, Brian Gay 73 74, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 71 76, (a) Luis Gagne (Crc) 73 74, Kevin Chappell 75 72, Webb Simpson 76 71, Daniel Berger 76 71, Haotong Li (Chn) 79 68, Tony Finau 75 72, Peter Uihlein 75 72, Sam Burns 71 76, (a) Matt Parziale 74 73
148 Steve Stricker 73 75, Cameron Wilson 75 73, Matthieu Pavon (Fra) 71 77, Gary Woodland 79 69, Tim Wilkinson (Nzl) 76 72, Dean Burmester (Rsa) 75 73, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 76 72, Bill Haas 76 72, Brandt Snedeker 72 76, Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) 76 72
Missed Cut
149
Matt Wallace (Eng) 77 72, Graeme McDowell (NIrl) 79 70, Eric Axley 73 76, Lucas Glover 77 72, Lanto Griffin 76 73, Matthew Southgate (Eng) 77 72, (a) Braden Thornberry 76 73, Si Woo Kim (Kor) 73 76, Chez Reavie 75 74, Jason Scrivener (Aus) 78 71, Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 76 73, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 76 73, Roberto Castro 75 74, Sungjae Im (Kor) 76 73, Jordan Spieth 78 71
150 Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 74 76, Sebastian Vazquez (Mex) 77 73, Brian Stuard 74 76, Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 80 70, Tiger Woods 78 72, (a) Tyler Strafaci 78 72, Matthew Jones (Aus) 76 74
151 Will Zalatoris 80 71, Aaron Wise 77 74, Tom Lewis (Eng) 79 72, Bubba Watson 77 74, Chesson Hadley 76 75, Cameron Smith (Aus) 79 72, Sebastian Munoz (Col) 80 71, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 76 75
152 Jason Day (Aus) 79 73, Luke List 75 77, Cole Miller 78 74, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 79 73, Ollie Schniederjans 76 76, Matt Kuchar 74 78, Danny Willett (Eng) 75 77, Kevin Kisner 77 75
153 Trey Mullinax 79 74, Richie Ramsay (Sco) 77 76, Adam Scott (Aus) 78 75, David Bransdon (Aus) 79 74, Doug Ghim (a) 79 74, Sung-joon Park (Kor) 81 72
154 Harold Varner III 79 75, Scott Stallings 80 74, Kyle Stanley 75 79, Paul Waring (Eng) 78 76, Michael Putnam 78 76, Christopher Babcock 78 76, Ted Potter, Jr. 76 78, Shane Lowry (Irl) 75 79, Sergio Garcia (Esp) 75 79, (a) Rhett Rasmussen 80 74
155 Keegan Bradley 81 74, Michael Miller 77 78, (a) Stewart Hagestad 81 74, Jon Rahm (Esp) 78 77, Wen-chong Liang (Chn) 79 76
156 Richy Werenski 76 80, (a) Jacob Bergeron 81 75, Ryan Evans (Eng) 78 78, (a) Theo Humphrey 84 72
157 (a) Chun An Yu (Tpe) 76 81, Alexander Levy (Fra) 77 80, Lucas Herbert (Aus) 83 74, David Gazzolo 76 81, Ernie Els (Rsa) 78 79
158 Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn) 81 77, (a) Garrett Rank (Can) 83 75, (a) Kristoffer Reitan (Nor) 81 77, (a) Timothy Wiseman 83 75, Rikuya Hoshino (Jpn) 79 79, Adam Hadwin (Can) 83 75, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 83 75, James Morrison (Eng) 81 77, Kenny Perry 79 79, (a) Franklin Huang 82 76, (a) Ryan Lumsden (Sco) 82 76, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 78 80
159 (a) Harry Ellis (Eng) 80 79, Sulman Raza 82 77, (a) Shintaro Ban 81 78, Shota Akiyoshi (Jpn) 82 77, (a) Noah Goodwin 81 78
160 Michael Hebert 87 73
161 (a) Philip Barbaree 82 79
163 Michael Block 85 78
167 Scott Gregory (Eng) 92 75

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