The No. 1 player in the world will have a rare weekend off. Dustin Johnson was unable to overcome a bad opening round at the Memorial and missed a cut for the second time this year.
If there’s a bright side for Johnson _ who followed a birdie-free 6-over 78 with a 74 on Friday _ it is that he’ll have more time to prepare to defend his U.S. Open title in two weeks. First, though, he’ll go home to Florida for the birth of his second child.
Johnson was tied for 97th at 8 over. And he didn’t want to talk about it, declining interview requests.
Phil Mickelson, who played with Johnson, said no one should doubt that Johnson will be back competing on the weekend as a string of majors begins with the Open on June 15.
“He had one or two bad holes. He had a bunch of things just not go his way,” said Mickelson, who was 4 under. “When you watch him play, it’s noticeable how much better he’s gotten over the years and how good he is.”
Things definitely didn’t go Johnson’s way at Muirfield Village.
His forgettable first round included a triple bogey on the par-3 16th after he hit his first shot in the water, and a double bogey on the sixth hole when he three-putted from 4 feet.
It was the first time in four years he failed to make a birdie in a round.
Johnson started with a bogey Friday and had two birdies before making the turn. On the seventh hole, he hit his second shot 227 yards to 6 feet but lipped out the eagle putt and settled for a birdie. He had three bogeys on the back nine.
That was out of character. The 32-year-old Johnson has won three times _ Genesis Open, WGC-Mexico Championship and WGC-Dell Match Play and has four other top-10 finishes this season, including a runner-up finish in Abu Dhabi on the European Tour. He missed the cut in January at Torrey Pines.
His previous worst score this year was a second-round 75 at the Wells Fargo Championship last month, his first tournament after missing the Masters because of a back injury suffered when he fell on stairs. In his last two outings, he tied for 12th and 13th.
Next he’ll get ready to head to Wisconsin to see if he can be the first player since Curtis Strange in 1989 to win back-to-back U.S. Opens.