KAPALUA, Hawaii — The PGA Tour season finally got underway on Monday, and Dustin Johnson wasted no time taking control in the Tournament of Champions.
Johnson had not played the Plantation Course at Kapalua since Thursday. Once he got started, he hardly missed a shot. Johnson had seven putts at eagle over 36 holes, four on the back nine alone in the second round. He missed only three greens in regulation. And when his marathon day ended, he had rounds of 69-66 for a three-shot lead over defending champion Steve Stricker.
Three days behind schedule because of high wind, the season started on the day the tournament was supposed to finish. Rickie Fowler made PGA Tour history by hitting the opening shot of the season three times — the first two ‘‘opening rounds’’ had to be scrapped by 40-mile-per-hour gusts roaring down the hills.
Johnson returned some degree of normalcy under warm sunshine and strong wind. He simply overpowered Kapalua, twice driving the green on par 4s, one of them into the wind. He was at 11-under-par 135, and that lead looms even larger with only one round to play.
About a month ago, Stricker began feeling a shooting pain down his left side when he shifted his weight in that direction, and he was limping badly coming down the 18th in the middle of his second round. But from 67 yards away, his pitch rode the slope and the wind to perfection and dropped for eagle. He had a 67 to reach 138.
Bubba Watson, playing with Johnson, birdied his last hole for a 69 and was four shots out of the lead. Keegan Bradley (69) and Brandt Snedeker (70) were another shot behind.