Johnson’s day started poorly when his approach shot on the first hole rolled over the back of the green and led to a bogey. After a birdie on the second hole, he took another bogey at No. 5 when his tee shot found the forward fairway bunker on the left side and he was unable to reach the green with his approach.
Johnson got a pair of birdies at No. 11, chipping in from 51 feet ala Larry Mize, and at No. 13, where he two-putted from 14 feet. His tee shot at the par-3 16th landed way above the hole location, leaving him with a near-impossible putt to stop and a three-putt bogey.
The worst sequence came on the 18th hole. Johnson pushed his tee shot to the right and it rattled off a tree and into the pine straw. His only play was a punchout, but it carried through the fairway and into the patrons. His approach finished 31 feet past the hole and Johnson lagged it four feet short, only to have the bogey putt spin around the hole and hand him with a double bogey for just the second time in 39 career rounds.
“You’ve really got to be good with controlling your distance, which that’s what I thought was really difficult today, just with the wind. It was kind of gusty, too,” Johnson said. “I felt like I hit a lot of good shots that didn’t end up in good spots, just from misjudging the wind a little bit.”
Johnson showed no sign of tension on the course and said there was never a thought given to his opportunity of becoming only the fourth player to win back-to-back Masters.
“If anything, I’m a little more relaxed out there,” he said. “Today, like I said, it just played tough. I felt like I played pretty well too, or got it around pretty well. The last hole kind of stings a little bit, but (I’ll) go to the range, hit a few balls. I feel like I’m swinging well, playing good. Looking forward to the rest of the week.”
It was the fifth time Johnson has shot over par over his last nine stroke-play rounds since his victory at the Saudi International. Since the he has tied for 54th at the WGC-Workday, tied for 48th at the Players Championship and failed to get out of his pod at the WGC-Match Play Championship.