WILMINGTON — There was little to no signs that world No. 1 Dustin Johnson hadn’t played a competitive round in nearly 40 days.
The South Carolina native drew massive crowds for his early round in Round One of the Wells Fargo Championship at Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington on Thursday, and off the tee, it seemed he hadn’t missed a step with the distance. He carded a 2-under 70 and is four strokes off the lead in a tie for 15th place after the first round.
Johnson hadn’t played a round on Tour since injuring his back during the week of the Masters in April that forced him to withdraw from the event.
“For a little while there, I did,” Johnson said if he felt like he did the last time he played. “Obviously I haven’t had a lot of practice, so that’s the biggest issue, but I felt like the swing was really good out there today.”
Johnson’s last round was on March 26 at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, a tournament in which he won. He comes into the Wells Fargo Championship with three tournament wins in his last three events.
As far as the back injury, he said there was no signs it affected his play on Thursday.
“I fell good. As far as physically, no issues,” Johnson said. “I just need to get some rounds in and some more reps, but the golf swing is in good shape. If I hit it like I did today the next few days, I’ll be right there on Sunday.
“I thought I drove it nicely and hit a lot of good iron shots.”
While the driver and irons were working for Johnson, the putter and the wedges were the weakness. He hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation, but struggled with the greens and had 32 putts.
“It was playing difficult,” Johnson said of the course. “I didn’t roll it that well today. I think I played a lot better than my score.”
New course, same result
J.B. Holmes might have won the 2014 Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, but a new venue didn’t slow down his success in the tournament.
Behind a hot finish, the hard-hitting Holmes shot a 5-under 67 to get into a tie for second place. He closed with five birdies over the last seven holes. after a quiet front nine.
He tees off with fellow defending champion James Hahn and Phil Mickleson at 7:56 a.m. from the first tee.
Carl Pettersson and Webb Simpson, two members of Eagle Point Golf Club that are playing in the filed, could’ve used a few members’ bounces in their first round on Thursday. Both sit above par after the first day of play at their course with Simpson at 1 over and Pettersson at 7 over.
Simpson was in red figures for most of the round before a double bogey on No. 7 and Pettersson scattered seven bogeys in his round that had no birdies.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.