Johnson seeks 1st major in familiar territory

Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson

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Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Avondale, LA - TPC Louisiana

3:49:14 PM ET. 04/23/2014




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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – A new instructor and a familiar setting are working out well for Dustin Johnson at the U.S. Open.

Johnson, winner of the past two AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Ams, shot 1-under 70 Friday morning. He was tied for second at 1-under 141, two shots behind Graeme McDowell, when the morning wave finished play.

“Whenever you have success at a golf course you get a lot of confidence,” Johnson said.

Johnson is two months into a relationship with instructor Butch Harmon. Johnson said they’ve worked on making Johnson’s backswing a little shorter and getting more width in his downswing, and have helped him hit a fade when necessary, “a cut shot that’s going to win a big tournament on a Sunday,” caddie Bobby Brown said.

“I don’t think it’s any coincidence our (greens in regulation percentage) has grown close to 12 percent since we started working with Butch,” Brown said. “He’s shown a new dedication and a new focus working with Butch.”

Johnson, 25 years old and in his third PGA Tour season, is already a three-time PGA Tour winner. As he gains experience, he’s starting to have more success in majors. He posted his best major finish, a tie for 10th, at last year’s PGA Championship.

“Nerves don’t exist with him,” said Brown, a former Pebble Beach looper. “He’s a flatliner. That’s his best quality to me, other than that he’s a freak athlete and a freak talent.”

Johnson switched to Harmon after working the past several years with his college coach, Allen Terrell of Coastal Carolina; Terrell has been something of a mentor for Johnson, and Johnson said that relationship remains.

“Coach and I, we’re still great friends. We’ll always be. He’s been there for me for a long time,” Johnson said. “The only reason I went to Butch is Coach is the only guy I’ve ever worked with, so just to get a different eye, a different opinion.”

If Johnson were to win, he would own four PGA Tour titles and a major before his 26th birthday, which he’ll celebrate Tuesday. A victory would establish Johnson as the class of the sub-30 set.

Three of those victories would be at Pebble Beach. Much has been made about how much firmer Pebble Beach is this week than when it hosts the AT&T, but Brown said one thing stays the same.

“I’m starting to feel a little bit of that vibe that I’ve felt with him two times before,” Brown said. “It’s always a good vibe when he’s here.”

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