With the talent Dustin Johnson possesses, just about any course on tour sets up well for his game. But the Plantation Course at Kapalua seems to particularly fit his eye. On Friday, the world No.1 posted a five-under 68, his 11th round of 68 or better at Kapalua since 2009, getting him within one shot of the lead at nine-under 137 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Johnson’s round couldn’t have gotten off to a much worse start, with back-to-back bogeys at the third and fourth holes, dropping him to two under for the tournament. But he patched together a solid front nine of one-under 35 with birdies at the sixth, eighth and ninth holes and began to build momentum. From there it was a smooth walk to the clubhouse, featuring four birdies and no bogeys for a back nine four-under 33.
“Through five holes, I felt good, I was hitting some good shots, just didn’t score very well,” Johnson said. “Then kind of got it started there on six and made birdie and then made a really good birdie on eight and birdied nine. So kind of got me on back in the rhythm and I played a really nice solid back nine.”
He heads into the weekend firmly in contention, a familiar place for Johnson at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. In seven career starts, he’s finished inside the top 10 five times, including a victory in 2013.
“It sets up well. It’s windy, so you got to strike the ball well. I think that’s a big factor out here, especially with all this wind,” he said. “It’s a lot of feel around here. You hardly ever hit full shots, I feel like. So I kind of like it.”
Johnson is chasing first-round leader Marc Leishman, as well as Brian Harman, who are tied at the top at 10-under 136. Harman carded a second straight five-under 68, while Leishman followed his first-round 67 with a four-under 69.
Close behind are Pat Perez, Chris Stroud and Jordan Spieth, who each fired seven-under 66s, the low round of the week so far. For Perez and Stroud, it puts them within two shots at eight-under 138 along with Jhonattan Vegas. Spieth will need another strong day on Saturday, as he sits five back at five-under 141, tied with Jon Rahm and Billy Horschel.
The lone man at seven-under 139 is Jason Dufner, who shot a five-under 68. Five players are at six under, including Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama.