Southport, England — Dustin Johnson was growing mildly impatient on the putting green at Royal Birkdale as he kept checking on the arrival of U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka for their practice round Sunday at the British Open.
What really makes him impatient is waiting on his game to return to the form that took him to No. 1 in the world.
It all feels good. He also knows it won’t matter until he’s on the first tee Thursday morning for his first competition in 34 days, dating to a missed cut at the U.S. Open.
“Since I got hurt at Augusta, my game hasn’t been nearly as good as it was,” Johnson said, referring to that spill down the stairs in his rental home that forced him out of the Masters. “Not only that, I couldn’t practice for almost four weeks. Taking four weeks off isn’t bad if you can practice. I couldn’t practice. I couldn’t swing a club.
“It’s taken me a long time to get everything back to feeling where it was. I’m trying to get back to that point. It’s definitely a lot harder.”
Before he slipped down the stairs and wrenched his back, Johnson made it all look so easy.
He won big at Riviera to get to No. 1 in the world. He completed a sweep of the World Golf Championships in Mexico City. And then he breezed through all seven of his matches in Texas, never trailing in any of them at the Dell Technologies Match Play.
Johnson has split time between California and Florida in the last month to spend time with his newborn son, River, and he’s played enough to feel good about his game going into the Open.
He also likes what he has seen of Royal Birkdale, as fine a links as there is in England.
Where: Royal Birkdale (7,156 yards, par 70), Southport, England.
Format: 72 holes of stroke play. A playoff, if necessary, is four holes, aggregate score.
TV: Thursday-Friday, 1:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, 4:30-7 a.m. (Golf Channel), 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. (NBC); Sunday, 4-7 a.m. (Golf Channel), 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. (NBC).
Defending champion: Henrik Stenson.