MAMARONECK, N.Y. (Reuters) - Dustin Johnson came into the U.S. Open as the red hot favorite to walk away with the trophy but after an opening round three-over 73 on Thursday, the world number one will first have to worry about making the cut.
With two wins and two runner-up finishes, including the PGA Championship, in his last four starts, Johnson was nearly everyone's pick as the man to beat this week at Winged Foot Golf Club and while it wasn't the start he wanted, it wasn't one that seemed to worry the newly PGA Tour player of the year.
"It wasn't too bad," summed up Johnson, who finds himself eight back over first round leader Justin Thomas. "Just didn't drive it in the fairway enough.
"Honestly, I felt like I rolled it really well, but I just didn't make any putts.
"I think that was the difference of shooting a couple under, and I shot a few over."
With narrow fairways and deep, gnarly rough anyone with a misfiring driver paid a heavy penalty on Thursday, including Johnson who hit just six of 14 from the tee box.
The tricky undulating greens also posed a problem for Johnson, who finished near the bottom of the putting statistics after Day One ranked in a tie at 103.
But like his work off the tee Johnson was unconcerned.
"Hit a lot of good putts," said Johnson. "I just didn't make any putts. Felt like I hit good ones.
"I feel pretty good about three-over; I didn't play great, didn't make any putts.
"So obviously tomorrow if I shoot a few under, I'll get back in the golf tournament."
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Christopher Cushing)