Dustin Johnson shoots 64 at The Open to rise into quiet contention

The early attention and headlines around the third round of The Open today at Royal Birkdale were devoted to Branden Grace and his round of 62, eight under par; the first 62 in majors history. That is majors record royalty.

Teeing off an hour and 25 minutes after South African Grace was the world number one, Dustin Johnson. He began the third round nine shots behind the halfway lead of Jordan Spieth, after Johnson had returned modest cards of 71, 72 in the first two rounds.

It is hard to imagine Johnson – standing at six-foot-four and averaging 334 yards off the tee today – playing golf in any kind of shadow, but that is almost what happened today.

The early attention poured onto Grace, and soon afterwards the leading pair of Spieth and Matt Kuchar were teeing off, meanwhile Johnson went about his business and shot a bogey-free 64, six under par. That is the second-best score of the third round at the time of writing.

Four birdies on the front half, two on the back, not a blemish in sight, and the 2016 U.S. Open champ has slid ominously, quietly up the leaderboard. As a man of notoriously few words, that is just how Johnson likes it.

“Fortunately I hit some really good shots – a lot better than I have the last couple of days,” said Johnson, 33, after his round. “I’ve got a little momentum going into tomorrow and I’ll see if I can keep it rolling.

“You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I’m going to need to shoot probably nine-under, I would imagine, to get to 12-under. That would be a decent number to take into the clubhouse.”

Johnson was imperious earlier this year, winning three times in a row on the PGA Tour before falling on the eve of the Masters and injuring his back. Since then he has struggled to regain form, but something may have clicked today on the links of Birkdale.

“I’ve struggled the last little bit,” admitted Johnson. “I’ve watched a lot of video of my play in LA and Mexico and at the Match Play just to see if I can notice anything with my swing compared to now. I think I figured it out today, so we’ll see tomorrow.”

Story courtesy of Mercedes-Benz – an Official Patron and the Official Car of The Open