Johnson primed for U.S. Open defence after missing Masters

r missing the Masters, world number one Dustin Johnson feels ready to defend his U.S. Open crown at Erin Hills.

A freak accident forced Johnson to withdraw from April’s Masters – a back injury suffered after falling on the stairs at his rental home.

Johnson, however, is fit and braced for another title tilt in Wisconsin following the birth of his second child – River Jones Johnson.

“Obviously, it was very disappointing not to be able to play, kind of with a freak accident,” Johnson told reporters on Wednesday.

“I’m excited to come back and defend this week. The game feels like it’s in really good shape. I’ve been working really hard at it the last couple of days. And also it just all depends.

“It’s going to be a long week. Every part of the game is going to have to work well if I want to have a chance here on Sunday afternoon.

“I feel like I’m prepared, I feel like I’m ready, and we’ll see what happens.”

Johnson’s wife, Paulina Gretzky, gave birth to the couple’s second son on the eve of the American’s U.S. Open defence.

Fortunately the timing was perfect as Johnson – who missed the cut at the Memorial Tournament last time out – revealed he considered skipping the major.

“It depended on when she had the baby or when we could have it,” the 32-year-old said when asked if he thought missing the tournament was a possibility before the arrival of his son. “It was definitely a thought, but everything worked out and I’m here playing.”

Much has been made about the location of this year’s U.S. Open, with some players critical of the layout. The gargantuan Erin Hills will play more than 7,700 yards, starting Thursday.

Johnson said: “I really like it. It’s another course which — all U.S. Opens there’s a big premium on hitting the fairways. You’ve got to drive it in the fairways. Some of them are really wide. But they don’t play quite as wide as they look.

“But it’s a typical U.S. Open venue where the fact is that you have to hit the fairways. You can’t really play from the rough. So they do give us a little bit more room here, which is nice. Obviously with the weather conditions we’ve had the last few days the course is really soft and going to play long. I don’t know, I like the golf course. I think it sets up very well for me.”

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