Dustin Johnson is attempting to win his second US Open title at The Country Club this week, but it’s his participation in another tournament, the LIV Golf Invitational Series, that is almost inevitably generating the most interest in the 37-year-old.
The American was a shock inclusion in the opening field for the Saudi-backed Series, with Johnson reportedly offered $125m for signing up. However, while that led to him becoming one of 17 players suspended by the PGA Tour, he explained he doesn’t have any regrets about the move. He said: “Yeah, obviously, it was a tough decision, but I feel very confident in the decision I made. Yeah, I’m definitely happy and looking forward to obviously this weekend and the rest of the events this year.”
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There is some concern that, without LIV Golf players being able to secure world ranking points in its tournaments, they will ultimately feel like little more than exhibition events. The World Ranking points application is in, but, in the meantime, Johnson said he’s not worried about losing any of his competitive edge away from the PGA Tour, saying he’d be “just as sharp as I would play anywhere.”
The other marquee name in the LIV Golf Invitational Series, Phil Mickelson, finished 11 over and missed the cut as his pursuit of a career Grand Slam fell well short. Mickelson admitted he thought he was more prepared for this week’s event. Johnson has also been a little rusty this week, particularly in putting, but still only sat six shots off the lead going into the final two rounds.
The World No.16 explained it’s a fine line between being in contention in many tournaments two years ago and his indifferent form in 2022. He said: “Yeah, it’s really close. I feel like the game is very close to being the same. Playing back then, it felt like every day each round, I wasn’t giving away any shots. I haven’t really felt like I’ve given away shots this week. Just like today, I had tons of really good looks for birdie, hit a lot of really good putts. Just nothing was going in. That was kind of the difference between yesterday and today.”
One thing Johnson has not experienced is a hostile reception following his switch to the Greg Norman-fronted Series. He said: “I haven’t noticed any difference. Obviously, anytime coming to a US Open, it’s a great event. You know it’s going to be a good one. Just obviously felt like I’m playing pretty well. Just tighten it up just a little bit come the weekend.”
Johnson will be hoping for a strong finish before turning his attention once again to the LIV Series and the second event in Portland, Oregon, which begins on 30 June.