Dustin Johnson's 413-yard drive on the par-4 17th hole (his ninth of the day) in Thursday's opening round at the Memorial had everyone buzzing. But after the World No. 1 walked well (well) past playing partners Phil Mickelson and William McGirt, Johnson hit a poor approach from 56 yards and settled for par. Despite that brilliant display of power, it wasn't going to be DJ's day at Muirfield Village.
It was, however, an odd day for the reigning U.S. Open champ as Johnson finished with more triple bogeys than birdies. Of course, it helps (hurts) when you don't make a single birdie over the course of a round. Add it all up and Johnson shot 78, his highest round in more than 15 months dating back to the final round of the 2016 WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral.
Johnson began his opening round with six consecutive pars before finding water with his tee shot on the par-3 16th. After dropping, Johnson hit it to 27 feet, but three-putted for a triple. Moments later, he unleashed that gargantuan drive -- but it didn't help turn things around. Johnson made the turn and added a bogey on the fourth hole and a double sixth.
Of the morning wave, only Rafa Cabrera Bello's 79 was worse. Johnson had company at 78 from Billy Horschel, who won the AT&T Byron Nelson less than two weeks ago. Yes, golf is strange.
David Lingmerth, the 2015 Memorial winner, is the early leader at 7 under. Jordan Spieth, fresh off a T-2 at Colonial, is one back after opening with 66.
Johnson won three consecutive tournaments earlier this season before withdrawing on the eve of the Masters after suffering a freak back injury falling down some stairs. He returned at the Wells Fargo and shot a second-round 75 -- previously, his worst round of the season -- but rallied to finish T-2. His T-12 at the Players and T-12 at the Byron Nelson mark the first time he's finished out of the top 10 in back-to-back events in 2017.