News & ToursAugust 13, 2015

DJ's group lives up to the billing of a marquee group. Too bad you couldn't see it

HAVEN, Wis. -- The morning wave's featured group lived up to the must-see-TV billing. Too bad the fifth-, seventh- and eighth-ranked players in the world weren't the Featured Group selected to be shown exclusively online.

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While Martin Kaymer (21st), Keegan Bradley (44th) and Tiger Woods (278th) plodded around Whistling Straits, the elite grouping of Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler powered, maneuvered and, at times, chopped up Pete Dye's faux Irish links. Fans hoping to watch online would have been treated to Johnson's stunning ability to overpower seemingly impossible looking holes. They would also have admired Day's steady presence (68) and Fowler's bizarre mix of beautiful and disastrous shot-making that included a quadruple-bogey 7.

Johnson's opening 66 should still be at least near the top of the leader board with morning breezes turning into pretty stout afternoon winds. Then again, no first-round leader has won the PGA since 1983, so fortune may not be on his side.

"I would prefer to be in the lead, though, there's less shots you've got to make up," Johnson said, channeling his inner Yogi Berra.

When Johnson can bash his drives over and around the intended landing areas, the golf course effectively becomes about a par-66. Whether his aggressive round one overpowering of the course was entirely planned, is up for debate.

Instructor Butch Harmon told Sky Sports that he'd suggested a gentle start to the pupil he shares with son Claude Harmon III. His idea? A 2-iron off the 10th hole. But Johnson went with 3-wood and an aggressive attack of the course, posting five birdies and one eagle. His driving distance average (312.8) for the entire round was longer than the two measuring holes (309.5), a fairly rare ShotLink occurrence. No drive was more impressive than at the par-4th, where a 337-yard draw used a slope to leave Johnson with a flip sand wedge and seven-foot birdie putt.

Johnson explained after the round that he was never comfortable with his ball striking at the Open Championship, even after jumping out to the 36-hole lead. He places the state of his game closer to his Chambers Bay game where he led much of the final round and three-putted the last hole to lose by a shot.

"Right now, today, I really felt like I had my ball under control a lot like I did at the U.S. Open,"Johnson said after hitting 15 of 18 greens. "So I feel a lot more comfortable right now. We'll just are have to see what happens. It's only the first round, we've still got a lot of golf to play."

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