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Dustin Johnson returns to Royal St George's 10 years after finishing runner-up to Darren Clarke at the 2011 Open
Dustin Johnson returns to Royal St George's 10 years after finishing runner-up to Darren Clarke at the 2011 Open

Dustin Johnson says victory at this week’s Open Championship would rank among his greatest ever achievements as the world No1 eyes a return to form in Sandwich.

The eyes of the golfing world will be on the Kent coast from Thursday morning as the game’s greats finally tee off at Royal St George’s Golf Club a year later than initially planned.

Due to the pandemic-enforced delay of the 149th renewal, exactly a decade has now passed since this venue last played host — a tournament where a then Major-less Johnson finished a brave runner-up to eventual winner Darren Clarke.

Now returning with both US Open and Masters titles under his belt, the South Carolina native, now 37, admits that his practice rounds have being bringing out some nostalgic feelings in recent days.

“It’s been a long time since then, but I do have good memories here and I did play well in 2011,” Johnson said.

“I like this course — it’s a tough golf course and is going to play difficult. 

“It’s a typical links course. You’ve got to hit good golf shots and hit them where you’re looking or it’s going to be a long week for you.

“For me, I think it’s the driving. If I can drive the ball well, I feel like I’ll have a really good week here again.

“[A win] would definitely be right up at the top of my list.

“It’s a Major, it’s one that I’ve been very close to winning a couple of times. So yeah, if I could get over the line it would be right up with the best of them.”

Dustin Johnson (left) is in a back-and-forth battle with Jon Rahm (right) for the world No1 spot
Dustin Johnson (left) is in a back-and-forth battle with Jon Rahm (right) for the world No1 spot

It has been a topsy-turvy year for Johnson, who was virtually flawless in the second half of 2020 before suffering a dramatic drop-off in form in recent months.

Wins at last year’s Travelers Championship and the Northern Trust were complimented by a dominant Augusta triumph last November — and Johnson believes those good times aren’t far away from returning.

“I had a really solid six or seven months around then and I think my game is just starting to get back to where it was at that time,” he said.

“I’m seeing a lot more consistency with the shots and the shapes recently.

“Also, my putting. I felt like I putted consistently well for that period where I was successful, so I’ve been working really hard with the putter — I feel like that could be the difference.”

Teeing his opening round off alongside Justin Rose and Will Zalatoris at 10:20AM, the hard hitter will hope everything clicks into place back at one of his favourite tracks.

Stick with LiveScore for all the latest breaking news from the 149th Open Championship.

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