There’s an old saying about the U.S. Open.
You don’t find your game there, you better bring it with you.
And you better bring your best game.
Dustin Johnson was already the odds-on favorite coming to Shinnecock Hills after his win in Memphis. He looked every bit the favorite on day one at Shinnecock, a day where 20-mile-per-hour winds squashed a lot of hopes.
Not those of Johnson. He was mostly large and in charge, crushing his playing partners — Tiger Woods (78) and world’s No. 2 Justin Thomas (74).
Johnson did enough good things to produce four birdies, three bogeys and none of those dreaded “others.” His day’s work totaled 69, one-under par and good enough for a share of the lead with Ian Poulter, Scott Piercy and Russell Henley.
His only stressful moment of the day came at the sixth hole where he drove it through the fairway and into the really thick stuff. There were no less than 25 people searching for his golf ball until one of them found it only because he stepped on it. A free drop didn’t help all that much, D.J. laid up short of the course’s only water hazard and limited the damage to bogey.
“I did a little big of everything well,” Johnson said after his round. “I chipped and putted well when I was out of position. When I got here today I knew it was gonna play difficult. It’s a day when you had to play good golf if you wanted a good score..”
Johnson was ready to go from the start, the wind didn’t intimidate him.
“Days like today, I love going out and playing in these conditions.”
You didn’t hear that sentiment from most of the field on a day where the scoring average was 76.1.
Only one player managed an even par 70 and that was Jason Dufner. His putter was its usual awful self. He missed at least a half-dozen putts inside seven feet.
Another pre-tournament favorite — Justin Rose — put himself in the mix with a one-over par 71.
“It was tough out there,” Rose said. “I hit all the fairways so I was able to play the golf course. For me it’s about knowing the golf course and being fresh on Sunday.”