By Larry Fine
SPRINGFIELD, New Jersey (Reuters) – While many players bemoan the short turnaround between the British Open and PGA Championship, jammed closer together to accommodate the Rio Olympics golf tournament, the implacable Dustin Johnson just rolls on.
The long-hitting, poker-faced American, who won last month’s U.S. Open for his maiden major, is in a groove and welcomes the challenge posed by Baltusrol when the PGA Championship gets underway on Thursday.
“I’m feeling good. I’ve got a lot of confidence in the game. I feel like I’ve been playing really consistent all year,” Johnson told reporters on Wednesday.
“I feel like every week I’ve gone out, I’ve had a chance to win. Right now I feel like everything is going pretty well.”
Johnson tied for second at last week’s Canadian Open for his sixth consecutive top 10 finish, a stretch that included back-to-back wins in the U.S. Open at Oakmont and the WGC-Bridgestone and a tie for ninth at the British Open.
The easy-going Californian, who will be grouped with Masters winner Danny Willett and British Open champion Henrik Stenson for the first two rounds, was unfazed about facing the year’s last major just two weeks after Royal Troon.
“It’s definitely different, playing so many majors pretty close together. But I don’t know, I’ve done pretty well this year, so I kind of like it,” he said.
Earlier this year Johnson also enjoyed four top-fives from five events including a tie for fourth at the Masters and a tie for fifth in the WGC-Dell Match Play.
World number two Johnson, one of the longest drivers in the game, said improving his wedge shots was a key.
“Probably the biggest difference this year than years past is my wedge game. It’s a lot sharper. I’ve got a lot more control with my wedges,” said Johnson, adding that he worked on it for the first time since joining the tour.
The combination of his accurate driving and improved wedge game has him in a positive mood about the 7,428-yard, par-70 Baltusrol layout that finishes with back-to-back par-fives.
“I feel like it sets up well for me,” he said. “It’s pretty long. You’ve got to drive it straight.”
Johnson feels he does his best work in the biggest events.
“I like the majors,” he said. “I feel like I do very well on really hard golf courses where pars are good scores.”
Johnson said his appetite for majors was whetted by his U.S. Open triumph. “Maybe even more of a desire to get a second one.”
(Editing by Frank Pingue)