'Wasn't very good': Johnson, Woodland use late rallies to salvage slow starts
Detroit — There were plenty of low scores posted Thursday in the first round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, but two of the top golfers in the world were left scratching their head by the end of the opening round.
Dustin Johnson, the No. 2-ranked golfer in the world, shot a 1-under 71 to tie for 101st, eight shots behind the lead of Nate Lashley, whose 9-under 63 was one shot better than Ryan Armour and Nick Watney with another seven golfers two back.
Johnson birdied Nos. 1 and 4 but things started to go sideways on No. 5 when he took a double bogey on the par-3. A bogey followed at the par-4 fifth hole before a birdie at No. 7 allowed Johnson to get back to even by the time he made the turn.
But the problems with the par-3s continued with another double bogey at No. 11.
Johnson bounced back with a birdie at No. 14 before closing the round with birdies at Nos. 17 and 18.
“I wasn’t very good,” Johnson said. “You know, two par-3s I made two double bogeys and just unacceptable. Had myself in poor position and then didn’t make it any better after that.
“But other than that, it was an OK round, just the two par-3s, two doubles. If I par those two holes it’s a decent day. I mean, I felt good with the golf game. I think come out tomorrow morning and shoot a god score, I’ll be back in the tournament.”
Things were as bad for U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland. He had six bogeys on the round and finished at 1-over 73.
After bogeying two of the first three holes, Woodland carded four straight from No. 8 to No. 11. A strong finish with four birdies in the final six holes had Woodland feeling like he could still get back in the mix during Friday’s second round and make it to the weekend.
“I was excited to be out there to be out there,” Woodland said. “The energy, the fans were amazing. Crowds were huge, which was awesome. I was just quick. I hit everything right all day.
"I kind of settled in there late and I made some putts late, which was nice. I was trying to get it back to 2-over par when I got to 5-over and it was nice to get it to 1, give myself a chance to play three more days.”
Reavie keeps rolling
Chez Reavie might be the hottest golfer on the planet right now, a suggestion which draws a smirk from him.
"I'm living it up for sure," he said after an opening-round 65, which left him two off the lead. "It feels great. It's a lot of fun."
Reavie, 37, finished tied for third at the U.S. Open two weeks ago, then carded his first PGA Tour victory in 11 years last week at the Travelers Championship. Rather than taking a break to enjoy the fruits his labor, he kept his commitment to Detroit and is in grand position for another great week — at least, as long as he keeps going low.
The highlight of his round came on the par-5 17th, when, from just off the back of the green, he drained a 21-foot bending, two-way-breaking putt for eagle.
The round could've been even better, but his putt for birdie at the 18th just slid by.
He played in one of the feature groups of the day, alongside Johnson and world No. 25 Patrick Reed. Still, Reavie, world No. 26, got his fair share of compliments and good wishes from the largest gallery of the afternoon groups.
"There were a lot of D.J. chants for sure," Reavie said with a wide smile. "It was great, the crowd was great, they were fun. They were cheering for birdies, cheering for Dustin to hit drivers everywhere.
"A few congratulating me for last week, which is great. Rooting me on, as well."
Oh, what could've been for Bud Cauley, searching for his first PGA Tour victory. Sure, he finished with a 3-under 69, which is nothing to sneeze at, even if that only got him into a tie for 55th place by day's end.
But he was 6 under heading to the par-4 18th hole.
There, his drive found the right rough, and his approach found the left greenside bunker.
He blasted out to 25 feet — and then proceeded to card the dreaded four-putt.
Cauley finished with a triple-bogey 7, the only "other" on the golf course during Round 1.
There's a lot of neat touches at Detroit's inaugural PGA Tour event, including some cool art — one piece being a sign that greets fans entering the grounds each day.
It's made out of 4,416 golf balls.
And yes, we counted.