A bit lost in the media explosion over the quest of Jordan Spieth for three straight Majors is how close Dustin Johnson came to winning the US Open himself last month.
Johnson reminded the crowds just how good of a 2015 he’s having in Spieth’s shadow, shooting a 7-under 65 to take the first round lead at The Open Championship at St. Andrews on Thursday.
Johnson wasted no time establishing himself as the top dog on Thursday, using two birdies and an eagle to sit 4-under through five holes. He added three more birdies between 9 and 14 and never bogeyed.
He leads a pack of six players: Robert Streb, Retief Goosen, Paul Lawrie, Jason Day, Zach Johnson, and Danny Willett by one stroke each. Goosen is the only former Major winner in that mix, while Day is looking sharp after not playing since his bout with vertigo at Chambers Bay and the US Open in June.
With an early tee time, Streb was at the top of the board for most of the morning. The 28-year-old American is 12th on the PGA money list so far in 2015.
Goosen is a two-time winner of the US Open, but has never finished higher than fifth at the Open Championship.
World No. 2 Jordan Spieth is two shots back, one of five players tied for eighth at 5-under, along with co-favorite Louis Oosthuizen.
Spieth, who is playing with Johnson at least on the first two days, came out white hot, with five birdies on his first seven holes. However, when he turned around for the back nine, his inexperience with the Old Course looked apparent, and he had two birdies and two bogeys the rest of the way.
Also at 5-under is American amateur Jordan Niebrugge, a 21-year-old like Spieth, who currently attends Oklahoma State University.
Phil Mickelson, the 2013 champion, is at 2-under despite shooting 3-under on the first four holes. Two-time winner Ernie Els, who last raised the Claret Jug in 2012, is 1-under. Also at that respectable score is John Daly, playing on the 20-year anniversary of his win here in 1995.
American Tiger Woods got off to a rough start with a 4-over 76, putting him tied for 139th with Tom Watson, who at 65 is in his final appearance.
Watson appeared to have found the Fountain of Youth in Scotland for at time, birdying #6, 9, and 10 to reach 2-under through 12 hole. However, three double bogeys in a six-hole stretch brought him back down to earth.
Woods bogeyed five of the first 10 holes and only recorded one birdie, that on No. 14.
The UK’s Nick Faldo, also playing his last Open at age 57, shot an 11-over 83 to sit in last place.