Johnson at home at Augusta

dscott@charlotteobserver.comApril 11, 2013 

— Dustin Johnson missed the 2012 Masters. He hurt his back lifting a personal watercraft at his home in Myrtle Beach, forcing him to sit out two months of the PGA Tour season.

For a guy who grew up in Columbia and played college golf at Coastal Carolina – all within hailing distance of Augusta National – missing the Masters is a big deal.

That’s why Johnson’s first-round 67 Thursday, which left him just one stroke off the lead, was pretty special.

“Obviously this is one of my favorite events – or it is my favorite event – to play,” said Johnson. “I grew up just one hour from here, so it’s always one that I look forward to playing.”

He had a solid, sometimes spectacular, round. He had just one bogey, on No. 17, but offset that with four birdies and an eagle on No. 13. He chipped in twice, on Nos. 1 and 9.

“This is one of those courses, the more you play it, the more you get to know it,” said Johnson. “It’s not easier, but when you get in trouble, you kind of know where you need to hit it.

“Every time you play here, you learn something about the golf course.”

Johnson hasn’t finished higher than 30th in three previous Masters appearances, his worst record at any of the four major championships. But he’s figuring out the Augusta National course.

“This golf course, it sets up really well for me,” said Johnson, who is one of the longest hitters on tour. “I love the shape of all the holes. But there’s something new around here everyday you play it.”

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