Golf hasn’t felt this easy to Dustin Johnson since he was making it hard for anyone to beat him.
Coming off a week in the Bahamas and switching back to his old putter to rely more on feel, Johnson ran off three birdies over his last six holes at Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, N.Y., and finished with a five-under 65 to trail Russell Henley by one shot after the opening round of the Northern Trust.
Henley brought a conservative strategy of aiming for the safe part of the green, and he converted eight birdies.
Scott Brown, Camilo Villegas and Chris Kirk were at 66, and it was an important start for Villegas and Kirk.
The top 100 in the FedEx Cup after this week advance to the second playoff event at the TPC Boston. Kirk is at No. 97, Villegas is one spot behind. It was even better for a few players who opened with a 67, such as Bubba Watson (No. 113), Martin Flores (No. 118) and Harold Varner III (No. 123).
Phil Mickelson needs to see a score much better than his 72, which featured two straight birdies at the end but also a pair of double bogeys. Mickelson has played in every Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup since 1994, and he is in danger of being left out of the Presidents Cup next month at Liberty National.
U.S. captain Steve Stricker has said he needs to see signs from the five-time major champion, and Mickelson knows that.
British Open champion Jordan Spieth had a 69, while Hideki Matsuyama, the No. 1 seed going into the PGA Tour’s version of the postseason, didn’t make a birdie and opened with a 74. Rory McIlroy made three bogeys on the back nine and shot 73.
Marina Alex shot a five-under 66 to take the lead in the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in Ottawa. Canadian star Brooke Henderson was in danger of missing the cut after a 74.
South Korea’s In Gee Chun and England’s Holly Clyburn were a stroke behind Alex at 67.
Angel Yin and Brittany Lincicome, coming off the United States’ Solheim Cup victory Sunday in Iowa, were at 68 along with Shanshan Feng, Sei Young Kim, Pavarisa Yoktuan and Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong.