NY Sports Day
Joe McDonald

McDonald: It’s Shaping Up To Be Dustin Johnson’s Open To Lose

USGA/Jeff Haynes

A four stroke lead isn’t a commanding lead by any measure with 36 holes to go, but with Dustin Johnson shooting a 3-under-67 for the day and 4-under-136 for the first half, he looks like the class of the competition at the 118th US Open.

“You’ve got to play really good golf if you want to shoot a good score, and I like where par is a good score on every hole no matter what club you got in your hand, what hole it is. A par is a really good score,” he said. “Around here, the fairways are fairly generous, but with crosswinds on every hole, they’re still tough to hit. Even though you’re in the middle of the fairway, a lot of times with a wedge you’ve still got to hit a good shot just to give yourself a 15- or 20-footer.”

Johnson, who is Wayne Gretzky’s son-in-law, looks like the great one out there. While his rivals have been getting destroyed by the Shinnecock winds, he put up the best first 36 of his career and became the first No. 1 in the world to lead after two rounds at the US Open, since Tiger Woods in 2002.

And sure, we have half the tournament left but the four-stroke lead he enjoys makes him the clear favorite going into the final two days. In fact, if he puts up a similar performance tomorrow and gets say one or two more strokes up, the rest of the field is playing for second.

To be honest, he will probably do that. Johnson has already seen the worst of Shinnecock and laughed at it as he kept under par. Now it’s just limiting the mistakes.

“You know, yesterday a couple times, I was a little bit out of position, but I knew — you know, I’m just trying to get it back in play and then give myself just a look at par,” he said.  “I feel like, if I can get a look at par and not make any doubles, you know, I’m going to make a couple birdies. But limit the mistakes, especially limit the big numbers.

“I know I’m playing well, so as long as I can do that, then I’m going to shoot a pretty good score.”

That’s the beauty of being able to get under par on Day 1. With the rest of the field playing catchup, Johnson is in the driver’s seat.

Now the sad part is that this tournament may be over by tomorrow. Johnson has had his meltdowns in the past, but those were years ago, and he is a very different player now. He seems to know what ahead of him and he’s not going to take his lead for granted.

“I usually don’t have any trouble sleeping,” he said. “But, yeah, I mean, there’s still a lot of golf left. There’s still 36 holes left no matter what position I’m in. Going into tomorrow, I’m going to stick to my game plan, stick to trying to play the holes how I have the first couple days and see what happens.”

As the only player who figured out Shinnecock so far, he’s in a very good position.


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