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How Dustin Johnson approaches golf, in nine easy words

Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson, in his press conference ahead of this week’s Palmetto Championship, was asked five questions. He gave five answers. And that was that. A short and sweet 3 minutes and 35 seconds

“Dustin Johnson, master of the short press conference,” the moderator said.

“Love it,” he said, giving both a smile and a thumbs-up.

“My favorite,” he’d add, and he was out of his seat at the Congaree Golf Club before the camera had even stopped rolling.

Which brings us to Thursday. 

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Johnson shot a six-birdie, no-bogey 65, and he held at least a share of the lead for the most of the day until Wes Roach slid in late with a 64. The world No. 1 has been in a mild funk on the PGA Tour this year, but during this first round (which started on the back nine), he ran off seven straight looks at birdie from no farther than 11 feet.  

He was asked if that was one of the best stretches he’s had in a long time.

“I don’t know,” he answered. “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.”

I just hit shots. Wherever it goes, it goes. Hundreds of thousands of wonderful words and sentences have broken down golf on this website. DJ just explained an approach in nine. Maybe it really was just a line to free him from another press conference. But maybe there’s more there. 

From the WGC-Workday Championship at the end of February, to his last event, the PGA Championship last month, Johnson finished no better than a tie for 13th (and missed two cuts) over seven tournaments. But in some shape or form during that stretch, he’d repeatedly say “I feel like it’s close” or “I feel like it’s getting better.” (He said both in his pre-tournament conference.) Now maybe we know why.

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I just hit shots. Wherever it goes, it goes. 

Then came Thursday. After sitting out the past two weeks, Johnson started out with five straight pars, birdied 15 (his sixth hole), then played 18 through 6 like this: 18, approach shot to 9 feet and a birdie; 1, approach shot to 6 and a birdie; 2, approach shot to 11 feet and a par; 3, approach shot to 5 feet and a birdie; 4, approach shot to 10 feet and a par; 5, tee shot to 4 feet and a par; 6, approach shot to 4 feet and a birdie. He’d chip in on his final hole for another birdie. His 65 is his lowest round over his now eight tournaments since the end of February. 

Now maybe we know why here, too.  

I just hit shots. Wherever it goes, it goes. 

Bad stretch? I just hit shots. A 65? I just hit shots. 

And wherever it goes, it goes. 

“I feel like I’ve been playing well, just haven’t been scoring very good,” Johnson said. “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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