Undaunted Dustin Johnson in driver’s seat at U.S. Open

SOUTHAMPTON, NY - JUNE 15: Dustin Johnson of the United States celebrates after making a birdie on the seventh hole during the second round of the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on June 15, 2018 in Southampton, New York. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Undaunted Dustin Johnson in driver’s seat at U.S. Open

PGA Tour

Undaunted Dustin Johnson in driver’s seat at U.S. Open

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. ­– Claude Harmon III likened student Dustin Johnson to LeBron James. His body style, his strength, his speed. He can “just do things,” Harmon said. Johnson believes if he can’t figure out a golf course in three days, he needs to find a new job.

The reigning World No. 1 didn’t come to Shinnecock Hills Golf Club prior to the U.S. Open. Just like he won’t scout out demanding Le Golf National before the Ryder Cup. Johnson sees things in simplistic terms, and at a complicated and brutally tough Shinny he’s cruising, leading the field by four shots.

“You guys (the media) have done a great job in the past of kind of, in the early days, painting him out to be dumb and stupid. … He’s about as far from dumb as you can get,” Harmon told a handful of reporters after Friday’s round. “The way that everyone out here is trying to think mentally, he does it without trying.”

Johnson doesn’t offer much extra in interviews. He’s not a storyteller. Not verbose. He answers questions in a literal way and keeps it positive. If golf tournaments were silent films, the strapping Johnson would be the perfect leading man. His game, his gait, his chiseled look makes him an easy star. The charisma comes in what is left unsaid.

Asked what it’s like to sleep on a lead at the U.S. Open and if experience makes it easier, Johnson said: “No, I usually don’t have any trouble sleeping.”

Do we really need to know more?

Friday’s early forecast called for no rain. Then it jumped to 15 percent and rained for hours. No one in the seasoned group of Ernie Els, Jim Furyk and Steve Sticker carried an umbrella or rainsuit in the second round. The rain got to a point where it became a hindrance, Furyk said, just annoying enough. A softer Shinnecock played long and gnarly.

Johnson’s 3-under 67 included only one dropped shot. In a week where nearly everyone in the field is seeing double, Johnson hasn’t made worse than bogey. He has gotten better at playing the percentages. He celebrates the lengthy par saves with more emotional fist-pumps, Harmon notes, because, as a U.S. Open winner, he appreciates their importance.

Tiger Woods played alongside Johnson in the first two rounds and was particularly impressed with his speed on the greens.

“Every putt looked like it was going to go in,” Woods said.

If there’s an area of Johnson’s game that’s underrated, Furyk believes it’s course management.

“Physically you look at the guy, and I don’t think anyone underestimates the physical ability that everyone has talked about so much,” Furyk said. “In order to be the best player in the world you do have to manage your game well, and get the ball around the golf course. It’s probably something no one talks about, but I’d say if I had to pick one, that would be it.”

Whatever comes Johnson’s way this weekend, he won’t be fazed. Surprise rain, lightning greens, blustery wind, strange rulings. Bring it on.

“At the U.S. Open, the worse the conditions, the easier it is for a guy like him because he literally has no pulse,” Harmon said. “He flat-lines.”

Of all the enviable gifts, this might be his greatest asset.

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