No one knows better than Dustin Johnson how one disastrous hole at Whistling Straits can ruin a final round in a PGA Championship.
In 2010, it was No. 18. On Sunday, it was No. 1.
Johnson had a quadruple-bogey eight on the first hole, spoiling his chances of challenging barely 10 minutes after getting to the tee box.
Even two eagles on the back nine, where he shot a five-under 31, couldn’t resuscitate Johnson’s chances. He finished with a three-under 69 to tie for seventh at 12 under, eight strokes behind winner Jason Day.
“Obviously, a little disappointed to get off to that kind of start,” Johnson said. “But that kind of comeback … was key, I think.”
In 2010, Johnson took a two-stroke penalty on 18 after grounding his club into a bunker way right off the fairway. It dropped him out of the lead and out of a chance to take part in a playoff won by Martin Kaymer.
The stakes weren’t as high this year – Johnson was six shots back of Day when the fourth round began.
Still, there was nothing cool at the first hole after Johnson’s “snowman.”
The tee shot landed in a bunker and his second shot sailed into rough.
It got worse from there:
His third shot landed 15 feet into a bunker, 51 feet from the pin. His fourth landed 22 feet into rough, 29 feet from the pin. His fifth shot was an errant chip that didn’t make it up to the green and caromed four feet back into a bunker. His sixth shot finally bounced on the green and left him 20 feet from the pin. He two-putted from there.
Johnson made up ground the rest of the round. A 51-foot putt on the par-5 11th for an eagle finally erased the four shots he lost on the first tee to put him below par for good for the round.
“But what a comeback today. I played really well from then on into the house. Definitely proud about that,” he said.