Five years after winning the U.S. Open title, Dustin Johnson shot an even-par 71 to open tournament play at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, California on Thursday.
Johnson stayed out to finish his round after play was suspended due to darkness. Sunset in San Diego was at 7:59 p.m. local time, but the marine layer in the area may have contributed to it being called a few minutes earlier.
Russell Henley and Louis Oosthuizen were the clubhouse leaders after Round 1, shooting 4-under for a one-stroke lead over Francesco Molinari and Rafa Cabrera Bello.
Johnson had +1600 odds to win his second U.S. Open and his third major championship as he opened play, via DraftKings. The low expectations are likely due in part to his having missed the cut at the 2021 Masters in April, right before he did the same the PGA Championship in May.
Before play started Thursday, he told reporters that the key to success at Torrey Pines would come on his drives:
"If I can drive it well, I feel like I’m going to have a really good week," he said. "Fairways are pretty narrow, the course is long. If I can hit the driver good, I like my chances."
It turned out that Johnson was right with his assessment, but he couldn't execute on his first 18.
He ended up losing 3.20 strokes to the rest of the field for missed fairways, according to U.S. Open stats. While his driving distance was just ahead of the field average, at 307.60 yards compared to 304.33, he only found the fairway on 31 percent of his drives compared to 48 percent from the rest of the field.
He shot an even-par through his first five holes but didn't exactly follow through on his goals. He didn't hit a fairway until No. 4., but he still managed to keep himself afloat.
Johnson didn't face his first real test until No. 7, when he bogeyed the par 4. That was his only misfire at the front nine, but it was enough to have him far down the leaderboard heading to the second half.
He had a strong start to the back nine, racking up the pars though he wasn't able to avenge his earlier bogey until No. 13, when he birdied the par 5.
He finished the round as expected, one of 17 golfers to finish even after 18 holes.
Johnson tees off at 10:51 a.m. ET on Friday alongside Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose.
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