“I just wanted to get birdies and get it back. I just wanted to hit it closer, so I wouldn’t have such long putts,” he said. “Going into the eighth hole, I hadn’t had a putt shorter than 15 feet.
“I needed birdies.”
He made an 18-footer for birdie on the ninth, missed a seven-footer for birdie on the 10th, made an 8-footer for birdie on the 12th, a two-footer for birdie on the 13th and two-putted for birdie on the par 5 14th. After pars at Nos. 15 and 16, he played a couple of holes he may remember the next time he has to finish strong.
On the 17th, a 428-yard par 4 playing into the wind, Johnson drove left into high-rough jail. He took his medicine and pitched out before approaching to 25-feet beyond and well above the pin. He rolled in that downhill put for par before going driver, 3-wood on the 551-yard par 5 18th and rolling his second shot right past the pin. He two-putted from 20 feet for his 71, carding his fifth birdie in the space of 10 holes.
Waiting for the rest of the field to finish, not clear if he was done for the day or not, Johnson reflected on his performance.
“It would be big (to win), just because I’m a sophomore,” he said, “but I’m still looking forward to finishing in the top five.”
It turned out much better than that. Also, time remains on Johnson’s side.
Follow me @clayhorning