(Reuters) – A well-rested Dustin Johnson returns to competition this week after a three-month break during which he focused less on golf and more on a “reset” to help him move on from what he called a frustrating campaign.
Johnson will make his second start of the season at this week’s Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego and the former world number one said he has not played much golf at all prior to arriving at the picturesque venue.
“Just a lot of time was at home with the family. Did some fishing. Pretty much anything but golf is what it is,” Johnson told reporters on Tuesday at Torrey Pines.
“Last week I started hitting balls again and so yeah, it’s been pretty good. The progression’s been nice. Each day I see it’s getting a little bit better, a little bit more consistent. That’s what I wanted.
“But after last year… I was frustrated with everything, so a break was what I needed.”
Johnson was the hottest golfer on the planet heading into 2021 after wins at the November Masters, Tour Championship, Northern Trust and Travelers Championship during a five-month span where he also finished runner-up at the PGA Championship, BMW Championship and Houston Open.
But the long-hitting American has not been the same player since the calendar turned to 2021, a stretch where Johnson was unable to find any level of consistency.
“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,” said Johnson.
“Just nothing was matching up. It just gets frustrating when you do it for eight months straight. Especially after like the fall I had the year before, it was really frustrating.”
Johnson, whose last start was a share of 45th place last October in Las Vegas, said his break not only allowed him time to practise with the new driver he will use this year but will also keep him fresh for the lucrative FedExCup playoffs.
“I’ll get more benefit, especially when it comes down towards the end of the year when we have a lot of big tournaments all in a row, the Playoffs, I’ll still feel fresh and rested,” said Johnson.
“But yeah, I just needed a reset with mind, body, everything. Just like I said, I was really frustrated with how I played last year.”
Johnson will play the opening two rounds on Wednesday and Thursday with tournament favourite Jon Rahm and world number six Justin Thomas.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)