Patience helps Johnson seize early PGA Championship lead

Thu Aug 13, 2015 5:14pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

KOHLER, Wisconsin (Reuters) - Long-hitting American Dustin Johnson used strong ball-striking and a strategy of patience to return to familiar territory at the PGA Championship on Thursday - in contention for a major title.

Johnson, who shared sixth place at the Masters in April and three-putted on the final hole at the U.S. Open in June to drop back into a tie for second, fired a sparkling six-under-par 66 at Whistling Straits to set the first-round pace.

With his athletic power game allied to his customary laid-back demeanor as he worked his way around the links-style layout, the 31-year-old eagled the par-five 16th and added five birdies and one bogey to surge to the top of the leaderboard.

"I thought I did a great job of just staying patient, hitting the shots that the course allowed me to hit," said Johnson, still seeking a first major victory. "And I struck the ball well today, so I was very pleased."

His eagle came on his seventh hole of the round where he blasted a huge drive down the left side of the fairway, then struck a four-iron to 30 feet and drained the putt.

Johnson is back at the venue where five years ago he incurred a two-stroke penalty on the final hole of the last PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, costing him a spot in a playoff.

Asked what he had learned over the years about being in the lead at majors or trying to play catch-up, Johnson replied: "It doesn't really bother me either way.

"You still just got to play your game, no matter where you're at. When you try to push and try to make things happen, that's when you can make some big numbers at the majors."   Continued...

Aug 13, 2015; Sheboygan, WI, USA; Dustin Johnson reacts after putting on the 10th green during the first round of the 2015 PGA Championship golf tournament at Whistling Straits.  Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports