There were suggestions around the world of golf this week that Dustin Johnson might lose his No. 1 ranking at The Players.
Apparently D.J. isn’t good with that suggestion and he went out and answered the bell Thursday at The Players.
Johnson got out in the morning wave, played a near-perfect back nine first, shooting 31 then found one birdie coming home on the front nine for a bogey-free 66.
By day’s end, it earned him a share of the first round lead at the TPC Stadium course with five other players.
“Number one? I definitely want to keep it,” Johnson said after his clean-card round. “For me to stay up there I’ve got to keep playing really well.” Johnson credited his driver and putter for his first round performance. “I drove it really nicely and I putted well. I could have been a little sharper with the irons,” Johnson added.
Conditions were perfect for low scores, especially for the morning half of the draw.. “Today was a pretty good day for scoring,” Johnson pointed out.
Indeed it was.
Webb Simpson and Alex Noren joined Johnson early at the top, later it was Matt Kuchar, Pat Cantlay and Chesson Hadley coming in with 66s in the afternoon wave.
Kuchar had a chance for the solo lead at seven-under but couldn’t get up-and-down from off the green at 18 and made his second bogey of the day.
An eye-opener at 67, five-under is defending champion Si Woo Kim. He had it to seven-under par but took back-to-back bogeys on the seventh and eighth holes, his 16th and 17th of the day.
Outside of Johnson, a lot of big names struggled.
Justin Thomas shot 73, Jordan Spieth 75.
In all, 68 players shot under par on day one.