Dustin Johnson strikes again at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Dustin Johnson strikes again at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

PGA Tour

Dustin Johnson strikes again at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Before he fired a second-round, 7-under 64 on Monterey Peninsula Country Club’s Shore Course Friday at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Dustin Johnson received news that his father, Scott, had bowled a 300.

“It’s not his first one,” Johnson said. “I think he’s bowled six or seven of them, but he can roll the rock pretty well.”

Johnson himself is a skilled bowler. Once, Johnson said, he bowled a 292, making 11 straight strikes before hitting just two pins with his 12th roll. (In bowling circles, a 292 is actually more rare than a 300.)

“I gassed it,” Johnson said.

Johnson doesn’t plan on a similar finish this weekend at Pebble Beach. In his first PGA Tour start since his eight-shot victory at Kapalua, Johnson was his usual dominating self, shooting the best round of the day, on any course. He is 12 under and tied for the lead through 36 holes with Beau Hossler.

In previous years, Johnson hadn’t played particularly well at MPCC. In eight previous visits, Johnson had broken 70 there just twice. Friday’s round was his best round on the course by four shots.

“I like the golf course, I feel like I should play really well, it’s just for some reason I just never have,” Johnson said.

But on Friday – and in much better conditions than in years past – he turned the tide on the Shore Course. Johnson birdied his first three holes and all three par 5s on the back nine. He finished with eight total birdies, including at the par-4 17th, where he hit 9-iron to 3 feet, and the par-4 second, where he stuck a lob wedge to a foot. His birdie at the par-4 fourth hole came from 20 feet, his longest make of the day.

Now, Johnson sets his sights for Pebble Beach. It is Johnson’s favorite in the rota and the site of two wins, in 2009 and ’10. He has four top-5s in this event since.

“I still had a couple chances to win even without playing too well at Monterey Peninsula,” Johnson said. “But obviously I’m in a really good position here starting the weekend, but still got two rounds at Pebble, which Pebble is probably my favorite out of the three courses and I really like playing there, it sets up well for me, but I’m still going to have to go out and shoot a good score tomorrow at Pebble if I want to be in contention on Sunday.”

Chasing Johnson and Hossler are Troy Merritt and Julian Suri at 10 under. Phil Mickelson, Jason Day and Jon Rahm are among those tied for fifth at 9 under. And Jordan Spieth, Paul Casey, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay, Pat Perez and Rafa Cabrera-Bello are all withing seven shots.

Yes, it will be tough, but Johnson should be up for the challenge. After all, he’s gotten pretty good at bowling over the competition.

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