AUGUSTA, GA. – The Masters is, unsurprisingly, Dustin Johnson’s favorite tournament on the professional golf calendar.
Until Thursday, it was also the only major championship in which Johnson never had been a factor. He changed that with a first-round 67 to put him one shot off the lead heading into Friday’s second round.
“It’s always one that I look forward to playing and enjoy coming here,” the South Carolina native said. “My friends and family get to come down and watch. You know, it’s a lot of fun. I’ve played OK here in the past, just not great. It feels good.”
It was Johnson’s best round in three trips to Augusta National Golf Club and the second time he has shot in the 60s.
“This is one of those courses, the more you play it, the more you get to know it,” he said.
Johnson, who missed last year’s Masters because of a back injury, never has finished better than 30th here, but he looked comfortable in an afternoon group that never had to deal with the inclement weather many feared would move into the area.
The 28-year-old practiced at Augusta less this year than he has in the past, he said, playing 27 holes on Monday and Tuesday.
“I didn’t wear myself out,” he said.
Johnson started the 2013 season with a win in the Hyundai Tournament but then faltered through six consecutive events that saw him finish no higher than 33rd. He began to turn his year around in March with a 12th-place finish in the WGC-Cadillac Championship, and he finished tied for fourth two weeks ago at the Shell Houston Open.
Johnson had an eagle, four birdies and a bogey and twice (at Nos. 1 and 9) chipped in from off the green. He looked like he would awake Friday morning with a share of the first-round lead, but his drive off the 440-yard 17th went wide right, leaving him no shot at the green. After laying up just short of the green, he chipped to within 10 feet but couldn’t make the putt and bogeyed.
The highlight of the round was an eagle on the 510-yard, par-5 13th.
Johnson and co-leader Sergio Garcia, who both represent Adidas among other brands, were dressed in the same outfit Thursday, but the lucky black and green shirts didn’t seem too pleased with the matching look.
“Well, we are not wearing the same outfit because we want to,” Johnson said. “This is Adidas; they script our clothing this week. We are wearing the same outfit because they told us to.”
Johnson was asked if he would be happier wearing the outfit of the Augusta National member who introduced him before his news conference, meaning the green jacket given to the Masters winner.
“I would love to,” Johnson said.