Dustin Johnson © Gallo Images
LIV Golf players have been making their presence felt at the majors this year and on Thursday it was Dustin Johnson who took the lead with a solid start to the US Open.
The former world No. 1, who took the first of his two major titles at the 2016 US Open, fired a six-under-par 64 at Los Angeles Country Club to tie his career-low round in a major.
That put him two shots behind co-leaders Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele, whose matching 62s marked the lowest round in US Open history and tied for the lowest major round of all time.
“Yeah, I like the golf course. Obviously they didn’t get it all built up today, as I would imagine they probably will be for the next three days,” Johnson said.
“The golf course is in perfect condition. You just have to drive it well here, otherwise you have no chance.”
Two months ago at the Masters, three LIV members finished in the top six, including joint runners-up Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson. Koepka went one better at the PGA Championship when he became the first player to win a major while a member of the Saudi-backed circuit.
Long-shot American Johnson went out in afternoon golf at the Los Angeles Country Club and was cruising at seven under when he stepped to his final hole, the par-three ninth.
A birdie would have given him a triple share of the lead, but Johnson put his tee shot into a greenside bunker, hit his second to about 10 feet and then narrowly missed the par putt.
Despite the bogey, his only drop shot of the day, Johnson was among a group of six golfers who combined to score the most rounds of 65 or better during a single round of a US Open, two better than the previous mark from the edition of 2009. at Bethpage State Park.
It also marked the tenth time Johnson shot a 65 or better in a major championship, tying him with Tiger Woods on the all-time list.
“The game is going in the right direction and I obviously feel very comfortable when I have the golf ball on the right
now,” said Johnson, who won the LIV Golf event in Tulsa last month.
There are 15 LIV Golf members in the 156-player U.S. Open field, down from the 18 who played it at Augusta National Golf Club and the 16 who played at Oak Hill.
But the US Open is the first major since the announcement of a partnership between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which controls LIV Golf.
Johnson said he didn’t feel any tension between members of the different circuits this week and felt he had “always had a good relationship” with the players from the other tours.