Justin Chases Dustin For World Number One
Justin Rose confessed that the chance to climb to world No 1 was on his mind during the first
round of The Players Championship.
A four-under 68 left him just two behind Dustin Johnson who is in a six-man share of the lead
alongside Matt Kuchar, Alex Noren, Patrick Cantlay, Webb Simpson and Chesson Hadley.
Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth also have the opportunity this week to knock
Johnson off the number 1 spot.Rose played with countrymen Tommy Fleetwood (69) and Ian Pouter (70) and the morning
was highlighted by an eagle on the par-four 12th, his third hole. A wedge from 98 yards took
one bounce before checking and dropping. From there, he made four birdies but a lot of his
good work was undone by the three bogeys.
To leapfrog Johnson, Rose needs to win and for Johnson to finish outside the top six. He
would also require Thomas, Spieth and Rahm to underperform.
For Jordan Spieth this was another desperate display on a layout where he has missed his
past three cuts. He was two-over after four holes despite eagling the 12th (his third) and
ended up hitting three balls in the water.
Johnson has hardly been playing poorly – chalking up four top 10s since prevailing in Hawaii
in his first start of 2018 – but has felt his putting has kept him from the winner’s enclosure. To
fix it, Johnson switched to a putter which he described as being “halfway between a blade
and a spider”.
Rory McIlroy has also been struggling on the greens of late – particularly in his final round of
last month’s Masters – and a report in the United States yesterday said he has split with
putting coach Phil Kenyon. However, it was his driving which was the weakness in his 71, as
he hit just six fairways.
Tiger Woods gave notice of how treacherous the drive on the 18th can be as he found the
water but he escaped with a bogey five and a 72. That was five better than playing partner
Phil Mickelson, who dropped seven shots in four holes from the 14th.
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