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New driver, but Dustin Johnson still very much DJ in return to competition


For the first time in more than three months, Dustin Johnson will compete in a PGA Tour event. New year, same DJ.

Asked on Tuesday at the Farmers Insurance Open if starting up at Torrey Pines, as opposed to last week’s more scoring-friendly American Express, makes for a rougher return:

“No. I mean, it’s a golf course,” he said.

Asked if the tournament’s Wednesday-Saturday schedule was of concern:

“It’s not. It’s just days,” he said.

If there is one difference in the 2022 version of Johnson, it might be his confidence in his driver. He was 21st on Tour in strokes gained: off the tee last season and seventh in distance, but he was 136th in accuracy.

Full-field tee times from Farmers Insurance Open

He also failed to win following the ’20 Masters and shockingly didn’t have a single top-5 finish thereafter.

“It wasn’t that bad, but it just wasn’t – it was frustrating to me just because I just wasn’t consistent. Obviously, I put a lot of good rounds together, but I just couldn’t put four rounds together. It felt like when I was hitting the driver good, I wasn’t hitting my irons very well. If I was hitting my irons well, I wasn’t driving it good. Just nothing was matching up,” Johnson said.

“[A]fter last year I just, I was frustrated with everything, so a break was what I needed. And one thing that I was really frustrated with was with my driver and we got a new driver this year, the new Stealth driver, and I really like it.”

When he says he took a break, he really means he took a break. Johnson said he spent lots of time with family and, “did some fishing. Pretty much anything but golf.”

It wasn’t until last week that Johnson started to get ready to resume his campaign, having played one event in the current season, a T-45 in October’s CJ Cup. Johnson said he tried out TaylorMade’s new Stealth driver and liked the first model they handed him, because DJ.

Now, with a reset of both body and mind – and driver – Johnson said he’s looking forward to improving upon an uncharacteristic season. And, maybe more so, he’s happy to get done with his first media session of the new year.

“I haven’t had to think this much in a while,” he said Tuesday regarding all the inquiries.