Dustin Johnson’s status for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational got murky when he withdrew from the 3M Tournament last week.
A back injury was reported to be the cause for the No. 5 golfer in the world’s early exit, casting doubt over his availability for this week’s tournament at TPC Southwind in Memphis. But Johnson arrived at some of his favorite stomping grounds — where he won FedEx St. Jude Classics in 2012 and 2018 — feeling fine.
It showed at times during Friday’s second round, as Johnson collected four birdies and an eagle. They helped offset four bogeys that left him at 3-under par 137, eight shots off the lead, heading into the weekend.
“It wasn’t — I didn’t injure anything,” Johnson said. “I was just really tight, so I got worked on over the weekend and (have) been getting worked on this week. No, it wasn’t really any question. As long as I could get loosened back up, I would be fine. And, you know, part of it was just from swinging poorly, which kind of messed it up. (But) feeling good now and everything’s good to go.”
Johnson rebounded from a slow start Friday by stringing together three consecutive birdies before making the turn at No. 18. His approach shot on the par-5 16th got within 3 feet of the cup to set up an easy birdie putt.
The highlight of the round came on No. 3 when he drained a 37-footer for eagle.
Johnson has always been fond of TPC Southwind given his successes there. But he said the course has played slightly more difficult this week.
“It’s a place I’ve liked since the first time I came here. It’s a really good golf course,” Johnson said. “It’s tough, especially in these conditions. Obviously, (the course is) really soft, which is unusual. Usually it plays firm and fast. But, you know, I feel like the first two days this week have been OK. I just made too many mistakes, really. I hit a lot of good shots and made a lot of birdies, I just made too many bogeys.”
Three of Johnson’s bogeys came after intermediate-range putts came up less than 2 feet shy of the cup.
“It wasn’t — they weren’t bad putts, just barely missed them from pretty short range,” he said. “I need to roll the putter a little better tomorrow, but I felt like obviously I’m going to have to go out and shoot a good score (Saturday) and Sunday if I want a chance.”
Play resumes at 10 a.m. CT on Saturday.
Reach sports writer Jason Munz at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @munzly.