ST ANDREWS, Scotland - Dustin Johnson is over the crushing disappointment of three-putting his way out of the U.S. Open last month at Chambers Bay. He said he was, but actions speak louder.
Johnson's 7-under-par 65 leads after the first round of the British Open, a warning siren to the rest of the field on the Old Course.
But two strokes back of him with a 67 was the man who beat him at the U.S. Open in June and played with him yesterday -- Jordan Spieth. Spieth's actions announced he's in contention for his third major of the year.
Johnson sits a shot ahead of a group of six, including Retief Goosen, local favorite and 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie, England's Danny Willett and Americans Zach Johnson and Robert Streb. Australian Jason Day, who battled vertigo at the U.S. Open, also is in the group.
Johnson said it took "not very long" for him to recover from the disappointment of Chambers Bay, when he missed a 12-foot putt at the last hole to win, and then pulled the four-footer coming back, which would have forced a playoff with Spieth.
Johnson is in the running for a major again, and the sense that his time will come gains momentum.
"The weather on Friday and Saturday is going to be very difficult," Johnson said after his round, "so today I thought it was very important to get off to a good start and try to make as many birdies as you can."
Johnson capitalized on an early 9:33 a.m. tee time before the winds picked up, playing with Spieth and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama. Aided by a gentle right-to-left breeze coming off St Andrews Bay, Johnson made birdies at the second, third and ninth holes and a spectacular eagle on the par-5 fifth. There he blasted a 375-yard drive down the middle and took a 7-iron from 195 yards to set up a 10-foot eagle putt.
"I played well on the front nine," Johnson said, "and then coming on the way back in it played pretty difficult."
Johnson turned in 31, 5 under par, and added two more birdies before signing for 65.
Spieth, who looks every bit the world No. 1-in-waiting, also flew around the front nine in 31, then made two birdies and two bogeys on the way in to finish the day in a share of eighth place.
"I'm very pleased with the start," Spieth said. "I saw a 65 in our group, and if D.J. keeps driving it the way he is . . . it's hard to argue with someone who's splitting bunkers at 380 yards.
"I believe in my skill set that I can still trump that crazy ability he has. When he stands on the tee I expect his ball is going to be miles down the fairway, but I also expect that I can birdie each hole when I stand on the tee. It just happens to be a little different route."
It was slightly mischievous of the R&A to pair Johnson with Spieth, and the U.S. Open did not feature much in their conversations.
"There was no chat about the U.S. Open at all," Spieth said, "other than talking about the differences in the courses here and there."
That probably means the difference between the greens, between the bumpy, irregular surfaces of Chambers Bay, and the more classically smooth greens of the Old Course.
"I enjoy playing with Dustin," Spieth said. "You know, it was an unfortunate ending to the [U.S.] Open in general, and today we just got off to a normal round of golf like always, and we were able to actually feed off each other and enjoy the day."