Dustin Johnson cracks driver before Day 1 of Northern Trust, salvages round

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Dustin Johnson’s 1-under 70, which has him T-34 after Round 1 of The Northern Trust, might be more impressive than it seems. 

Before Johnson’s round, he noticed a crack in the crown of his TaylorMade SIM2 driver – the club with which he won last year’s FedExCup and Masters. Knowing he’d be without his driver for the day, Johnson had a 3-wood retrieved from his car, which he received on the second hole. 

“I’ve got a 5-wood that I use for my 3-wood,” Johnson said. “It goes the distance I want it to. But I had a strong 3-wood (14.5 degrees) in my car, so it helped a little bit … the first time I hit it was on 8. Just, I hadn’t hit it. It was brand new. So I hit it down the middle on 8, hit a good one, hit a good shot on 9.

“I hit it nicely, though, with it.”

Full-field scores from The Northern Trust

Johnson ranked T-85 in driving distance, averaging 285.6 yards across all holes.  But if Johnson couldn’t get his 3-wood, he thinks he would have still salvaged his round. 

“I would have figured out a way,” he said. “I figured out a way to shoot a decent score.”

But while Johnson was working out his adventure on the course, another one was taking place off it, trying to get a driver for Round 2. 

Unable to have a driver shipped to Johnson in time for his Friday morning tee time, Keith Sbarbaro, TaylorMade’s Tour rep, scrambled to find the two-time major champion a proper replacement. 

Sbarbaro was playing at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey, about 30 minutes away from The Northern Trust’s Liberty National. Sbarbaro then ran out to a PGA Tour Superstore and found a used 10.5 degree SIM2 for Johnson, which Johnson was ready to test out on the range after his round. 

“I’ve got a couple [driver] heads that I’m going to go try to hit,” he said. “Keith got me a couple heads.” 

Dustin Johnson noticed crack in driver before teeing off

In Round 1, Johnson tallied three bogeys, one of which came on the first hole shortly after he discovered he’d be driver-less while trying to defend his Northern Trust title and notch his first Tour win since November. But the 38-year-old wasn’t phased by the uncertainty.

“The first few holes, it took me a minute to kind of get back into what I was doing, just because – especially a day like today with the wind blowing as hard as it is, for me, having a driver, which is kind of the club that I like to hit all the time off the tee, really,” he said. “Threw me for a loop there because it was literally 10 minutes before I was teeing off when it happened. Managed to get a decent round in there.”