Golf: Johnson once again in contention, this time in Memphis

Thu Jun 9, 2016 8:18pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Dustin Johnson has come close to victory several times on the PGA Tour this season without winning and the long-hitting American was once again back in contention at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis on Thursday.

A nine-times winner on the U.S. circuit, Johnson fired a four-under-par 66 at the TPC Southwind to stand just one stroke off the lead held by compatriots Tom Hoge and Shawn Stefani, and South Korea's Noh Seung-yul.

Fan favorite Phil Mickelson, a five-times major winner who next week will head to Oakmont searching for a first U.S. Open win after a record six runner-up finishes, returned a 70.

Johnson, who won here in 2012, was relatively happy with an opening round that included seven birdies, an eagle at the par-five 16th, three bogeys and a double at the par-three 14th.

"I felt like I played a lot better than my score," the 31-year-old said after finishing level with fellow Americans Brian Gay, Colt Knost and PGA Tour veteran Steve Stricker, Welshman Jamie Donaldson and Argentina's Miguel Angel Carballo.

"Just kind of gave away a few shots on the back side, which was my front nine, and then obviously finishing with two (bogeys after the turn)... just gave away a couple of shots."

Johnson, whose most recent PGA Tour victory came at last year's WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami, has recorded seven top-10s this season in 12 starts, including two third placings.

"Feel like I have been playing really well all year," he told reporters. "The game is good, it's really good right now ... just got to give myself an opportunity to get it done on Sundays.

"The only thing that has really held me back from winning a bunch of times this year is just making a few more putts."   Continued...

Jun 9, 2016; Memphis, TN, USA; Dustin Johnson hits his tee shot on the ninth hole during the first round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic golf tournament. at TPC Southwind. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports