Northern Trust Open: Riviera Meets a Quality Field Head-On

Dustin Johnson came off his T2 finish last week at Pebble Beach and picked up right where he left off in this week’s Northern Trust Open at famed Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. His 5-under, 66 put him at the top of the leaderboard by himself.

What happens when you get the best players in the world convened at one of golf’s classic golf courses is a logjam at the top of the leaderboard. After Johnson come:

  • 11 players tied at 4-under including: Jimmy Walker who just won last week at Pebble Beach and 3 of his last 8 tournaments, Scott Stallings who just won at Torrey Pines, Charley Hoffman who’s had 3 top-10s so far this season, World No. 45, Italian Francisco Molinari playing in his first Northern Trust Open and J.B. Holmes who has to come back at 7:30 Friday morning to finish his last two holes 
  • 6 players tied at 3-under including: Jim Furyk, Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler and a hot Pat Perez
  • 16 players tied at 2-under including: Charl Schwartzel, K.J. Choi, Lee Westwood and Ryan Moore
  • 24 players tied at 1-under including: Canadian Graham Delaet, Hunter Mahan, Harris English, reigning U.S. Open Champion, Justin Rose, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson and Jason Dufner
  • 26 players tied at even par including: Ernie Els, Davis Love III and Monday qualifier, Jason Gore

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s 84 of 144 players at even par or better.

Robert Garrigus is also in that group just one shot back of Johnson and he got there because he understood a little something about the transformation process, how you go from who you are to who you want to be. You simply step into the role first and watch as your world catches up with you.

Q.  Previously your best round was a 69; I guess the course has not been very kind to you.  Why today?

My attitude.  I completely changed my attitude.  I just stopped telling myself that I hated this place, so to speak.  But I convinced myself this is my favorite golf course of the year and I tell you what, this is the best shape I’ve ever seen it.  The greens are rolling unbelievably good, and you don’t usually see that on poa annua [grass].

So you know, I think with my attitude and the way the course has shaped up, I think everything worked out good today.

Q.  Changing your attitude, easier said than done?

If your mind is strong enough, yes.

At the beginning of the week, I said, okay, I’m not going to play a practice round, I didn’t go to the golf course once.  I just hit balls once and chipped and putted and I told myself that I love this golf course as much as any other golf course that I’ve ever played and it kind of translated.

Hit a lot of good tee shots and iron shots and made some putts, so I’m going to go with that attitude for the rest of the week.

And he’ll have a nice rest of the week to do it. It will be in the high 70s through Saturday and low 70s on Sunday.

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