Healthy Dustin Johnson back in action at Wells Fargo
Wilmington, N.C. — Dustin Johnson hasn’t lost his touch with his wedges.
From 107 yards away on the fourth hole Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Championship, his shot took a big hop on the firm green and flew straight into the cup for an eagle. The crowd erupted in cheers, while Johnson simply smiled and used his shoe to tamp down the corners of his divot. It takes a lot to get Johnson excited, much less during a pro-am.
“I’ll take it, though,” Johnson said. “I need all the good shots I can get. I haven’t hit too many lately.”
Johnson didn’t hit any of the Masters. That’s still a sore subject, even though his back no longer is.
The Wells Fargo Championship is his first tournament since a freak accident knocked him out of the Masters a month ago. Having just returned from the gym, Johnson still was in his socks when he went downstairs in his rented home to move his car.
He slipped near the bottom and crashed so hard on his lower back that it left a deep bruise, and the pain didn’t entirely subside until last week. Johnson tried to warm up the next day for the opening round at Augusta National and decided minutes before his tee time that he couldn’t go.
Now it’s time for golf’s No. 1 player to get back to work.
“Feeling good,” Johnson said. “Healthy, so can’t complain. Obviously, I haven’t played much or done a whole lot of practicing, but the body is all good. Glad to be back out playing again.”
Still to be determined is whether the fall cost him more than playing in the Masters.
There’s also that matter of momentum.
Johnson was starting to look unbeatable heading into the Masters. He had won three straight tournaments, two of them World Golf Championships, and was the most overwhelming favorite at the Masters since Tiger Woods was No. 1. But he hasn’t hit a meaningful shot since he won the Match Play on March 26. Given a choice, Johnson prefers to look at his time away differently.
“No one’s beaten me since February,” he said with a grin.
That was Feb. 12 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, when he finished third behind Jordan Spieth. Johnson overwhelmed the field at Riviera a week later to reach No. 1 for the first time, and only a staircase has stopped him since then.
He expects a little rust at Eagle Point Golf Club, a Tom Fazio design in this coastal Carolina town that is hosting the tournament this year because Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte is preparing for the PGA Championship this summer.
Johnson said he didn’t play 18 holes until 10 days ago at home in Florida. He took his family to Disney World last Thursday — he went with his 2-year-old son, Tatum, on all the rides — practiced and played nine holes on Friday, and then got so sick that he didn’t get out of bed until Monday.
“I was on a good roll, playing the best golf of my career,” he said. “I’ve had a lot more time off than I would have liked to have had. Still, I feel like I’m swinging really well. Hit a few good shots out there today. But we’ll just have to see.”
Romo eyes U.S. Open
Tony Romo’s next pursuit of a championship will be in golf. And it’s a long shot.
A month after the Dallas Cowboys quarterback retired, Romo is among nearly 9,500 players who signed up for the U.S. Open. He plays an 18-hole local qualifier Monday at Split Rail Links and Golf Club about 30 minutes west of Fort Worth.
If he advances, the next step is sectional qualifying on June 5 to get into the U.S. Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin.
This isn’t the first time Romo has tried to qualify. He made it out of local qualifying in 2010. In a 36-hole sectional qualifier where only two of the 35 players advanced, Romo opened with a 71 and withdrew in the afternoon after two weather delays.