LOS ANGELES – The world No. 1 ranking and a decade of consistent success at Riviera Country Club were not enough to keep Dustin Johnson out of harm’s way during the opening round of the Genesis Open.
The defending champ has logged seven top-10 finishes here since 2009, and he hasn’t finished worse than fourth since 2014. But that run is now in serious jeopardy following a 3-over 74 that sent Johnson tumbling down the standings.
The turning point came early in the round on the par-4 fifth hole, where Johnson’s tee shot clipped a tree and led to a triple bogey after his third shot from thick rough sailed over the green.
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“I didn’t hit that bad of a tee shot off the tee. Just clipped the tree and kicked down, and then I actually thought I hit a really good second shot,” Johnson told GolfChannel.com. “I was just trying to leave it short of the bunker and have a pretty easy pitch with the pin location. At worst, if it’s in the fairway, I have a 5- or 6-footer. But it just got into the high rough, and I ended up making a mess of that hole.”
Johnson bogeyed the next hole to cap a three-hole stretch in which he was 5 over. He trails co-leaders Patrick Cantlay and Tony Finau by eight shots and heads into the second round in danger of missing his first cut since the U.S. Open, a span of 14 worldwide starts.
But on the heels of a runaway victory last month at Kapalua and a T-2 finish last week at Pebble Beach, Johnson isn’t reading too much into an unusually bad afternoon that featured a particularly bad hole.
“It was one of those days where good shots didn’t end up great. I hit a lot of really good tee balls that went a foot into the rough, and you just can’t play out of the rough around here,” Johnson said. “But all in all, even though I was struggling a lot today, I played pretty well. I mean, it wasn’t terrible.”