Jason Day and Dustin Johnson have never won a major, but you wouldn’t know it by their opening-round scores at the PGA Championship on Thursday. Day shot a 4-under-68, while Johnson shot a 6-under-66.
Day has three runner-up finishes at majors and is coming off a fourth-place finish at the Open Championship. Could this be the major where he finally breaks through?
“Well, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Jason Day came through,” Golfweek senior writer David Dusek said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The guy’s put himself in contention so many times. He had a bout with vertigo that really was one of the main reasons he wasn’t able to get it done at Chambers Bay. He had close calls at the Masters. He was right there in the mix on the Monday finish this year at St. Andrews. He’s got every shot in the book. He has a reason to feel a lot of confidence after shooting a 4-under par this morning. He had the benefit of the good draw. So he was out there in the morning when there was no wind. If the wind is now blowing really hard and Jason Day and some of the guys – like Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes – get good scoring conditions again tomorrow, then clearly we’re going to be looking at the guys who had the early-late tee times as having a big advantage of some of the other guys. Jason Day has got every shot in the book. There’s no reason why he hasn’t been able to get it done at this point. I certainly believe that he will be, by the time it’s all said and done, a multiple major champion when he decides to hang up the sticks.”
Johnson, meanwhile, is in first place after the first day, but all anyone seems to talk about are his demons and past choke jobs. Is that always going to be the storyline with him?
“Well, the way to get that to stop happening is to pull through and win it,” Dusek said. “Dustin Johnson has got so much power off the tee. When you can do that, you can take angles into some of these hole locations that other guys don’t get to do. From tee to green, he’s one of the best (players) – if not the best player – on the planet. He’s able to overcome being a bad putter because he’s so good with the driver and with the iron. But until he’s able to fix the six inches between his ears and prove to everybody that he can close and not just sort of let it roll off his back when he doesn’t come through – get a little more fire in the belly so he pushes himself – (this will continue to be the storyline). In some ways it reminds me of what Adam Scott was kind of like before he got really rolling and got Steve Williams on his bag and got a little bit more toughness, a little bit more grit. And what happens then? The guy wins the 2013 Masters. Dustin Johnson needs the same thing. (His) first-day scoring average in the majors is 66.5, but his weekend rounds, he’s averaging 72. So when it really matters, he’s letting it go.”
Ultimately, Dusek thinks Johnson will fold again this weekend.
“Yes, I do,” he said. “This guy, to me, is like the late-80s, early 90s Buffalo Bills. Great regular season, gets you right to the promised land and then flops.”