Johnson and Spieth will be in the mix, says Harmon
Johnson's coach Harmon says his protege and Spieth will be in the mix on Sunday
REPORTING FROM ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND
You would think that Dustin Johnson, after having three-putted the final green from 12 feet at Chambers Bay to miss a play-off for the US Open last month, would have been devastated at losing his chance to win his first Major.
But not according to his coach Claude Harmon, who is here this week at the British Open with his protege.
"Dustin is not smart enough to be devastated," said Harmon, who spent two hours with Johnson immediately after that painful final round.
"Dustin doesn't think that way. There are some players who would have been wrecked by that, for sure.
"But Dustin looks on it, knows he missed two tough putts and moves on."
Harmon believes that Johnson, who has had near misses at four Majors, is one of those athletes who does not overthink his losses and let them haunt him.
It is a theory echoed by Johnson's other close confidant, agent David Winkle, who calls the American's ability to bounce back as his "greatest gift".
"It's normal, if you don't know DJ, to wonder about ," Winkle said in a recent interview on www.pga.com.
"If you know him, though, you know he never gives that a thought. He has an incredible ability to filter out . He looks at Chambers Bay as, 'I had one of the best weeks of my career', not, 'I blew the US Open'."
Other than his resilience, another gift Johnson possesses is a almost beast-like ability to hammer the golf ball immense lengths.
Yesterday, during the first round of the Open, that ball-striking was on full display as the 31-year-old American carded an impressive seven-under 65 to place himself right in the mix for the week.
On the 361-yard par-four ninth hole, for example, Johnson hit a driver into the wind to the fringe of the green, and duly birdied the hole with two putts from there.
"He's going to smash his driver all day," Harmon told me, as we walked past the 16th hole together.
"The way he is hitting it right now, it would really surprise me if he isn't there on Sunday."
"What about Jordan Spieth?," I asked Harmon.
"Spieth is a different kind of player to DJ, for sure. He plods around, but the way he is playing right now, I would be very surprised if he is also not there in the final round."
The reigning US Masters and US Open champion had a fairly sedate day, posting a fairly average 67 despite playing his first nine holes in 31 shots.
But 21-year-old Spieth, who seems to plot (not plod, Mr Harmon) his way around the course like a professor, might just the best putter under pressure in the world right now, which could be crucial when the winds kick up and conditions become tougher, as expected later in the week.
Watching the two men play the course yesterday was an amazing contrast of one brutish athlete taking on an almost scholarly exponent of the game.
Score round one for the beast, but I suspect the beauty and simplicity of Jordan's game is still going to be a big factor in deciding a winner this week.
l TNP Deputy Editor S Murali's trip to St Andrews was sponsored by Rolex, the Official Patron of the Open Championship.
65: Dustin Johnson
66: Paul Lawrie, Jason Day, Retief Goosen, Robert Streb
67: Jordan Spieth, Jordan Niebrugge, Kevin Na, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen
68: Luke Donald, Matt Jones, Greg Owen
69: Paul Dunne, David Lingmerth, Romain Langasque,
70: Sergio Garcia, Webb Simpson, Ollie Schniederjans, Anthony Wall, Alexander Levy, Thomas Bjorn
71: Sandy Lyle, Graham DeLaet, Ross Fisher, Ernie Els, Brendon Todd, Lee Westwood, Bubba Watson, Ryan Palmer, Kevin Kisner
72: John Senden, Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Reed, Graeme McDowell, Hunter Mahan, Carl Pettersson, Charley Hoffman, Russell Knox
73: Brian Harman, Matt Every, Shane Lowry, Billy Horschel, J B Holmes, Shinji Tomimura, Brandt Snedeker, Darren Clarke, Matteo Manassero, Ian Poulter
Selected: 76: Tiger Woods.