Chilled-out Dustin Johnson in the groove for Troon test

Dustin Johnson taps a ball in the air with his club during practice ahead of the Open at Royal Troon. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Dustin Johnson taps a ball in the air with his club during practice ahead of the Open at Royal Troon. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

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He was the last of the ‘Fab Four’ to face the media ahead of today’s start to the Open at Royal Troon but, for the assembled journalists, Dustin Johnson was more a case of Hello, Goodbye than the Please Please Me of the previous couple of days.

While Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy have all provided engaging, entertaining and revealing press conferences that had smoke rising off the keyboards in the press tent afterwards, Johnson lived up to his laid-back reputation with a languid exchange 
in which the 6ft 3in South Carolinian was practically horizontal.

In fairness, out of the stellar quartet, Johnson is the one whose golf has done most of the talking of late and he arrives here on the back of that maiden major win at the US Open and another big victory at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational.

Day spoke earlier in the week about how he has felt extra stress since becoming No 1 and Johnson was asked if he could envisage the same happening to him. “I don’t know. I’ll let you know when I get there,” he replied – an answer which disclosed both his chilled state of mind and oozing confidence.

He may be behind Day in the rankings but was asked if he felt like he is the best player out there at the moment. “I always feel like I’m the best player in the world, but that’s just me,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in my game. Obviously I’m playing very well right now.

“[The No 1 ranking] is definitely something I’d like to get to. I’ve still got a little ways to go. Jason’s in front of me pretty well, so I’ve just got to keep putting myself in position to win golf tournaments and keep getting it done.”

Getting it done is what he finally managed at Oakmont last month when he emerged from his “nearly man” tag with a win that came with the added drama of a shambolic rules confusion in the final round. The one-stroke penalty he received for a moving ball – only confirmed after the round – couldn’t prevent him prevailing by three and Johnson has been freed of what he termed having a monkey on his back.

“He [the monkey] is riding the bag now,” said the American with a grin. The 32-year-old sees no reason why he can’t keep the winning streak going at Troon and added: “I feel like I’ve been playing really solid all year long, winning the last two tournaments I’ve played in, obviously, I’m on a good run right now.

“But I feel like the run started at the beginning of the year. It’s just continuing on. So I’m just not changing anything that I’m doing. I keep working on the same things. My practice routine is the same. So that’s just what I’ve been doing. I’ve been doing the same thing all year and I’m going to continue to do the same thing.”

Much has been made of Troon being a happy hunting ground for Americans, who have won the last six times the Open has been staged here, but Johnson feels like he has a chance on any links course

“The first time I came over here was in college,” he explained. “We played a tournament at St Andrews Bay. I played a couple of other courses when we were here, and then I came back a couple years later and played the Walker Cup at County Down.

“Ever since the first time I came over I just liked it [links golf]. I thought it was something different than we play on week in, week-out in the US, or even around the world.

“It’s just different golf here. You’ve got to use a lot of your imagination. You’ve got to hit all kinds of different shots throughout the day. So it was just something I just enjoyed.”

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