Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”
The last time we saw Dustin Johnson, he was three-putting on the 72nd green at Chambers Bay to lose the U.S. Open by one stroke to Jordan Spieth. When we last saw Jason Day, also at the U.S. Open, he sent a scare after collapsing during the third round due to Vertigo. Day recovered, but his final round 74 blew any chance he had of winning his first major.
That’s why it’s so sweet to look at the Day 1 leaderboard at St. Andrews and see two names at the top – Dustin Johnson, Jason Day. Johnson, 31, shot an opening round round 7-under 65 with five birdies, an eagle and not a single bogey. Day finished a shot behind DJ, firing a bogey free 6-under 66 with six birdies of his own.
Johnson has remained silent on his U.S. Open disappointment, until this week. The loss stung, but Johnson is fronting a glass half full attitude.
“I think it’s very good, very positive,” he said earlier this week. “It gives me the confidence to know I have what it takes to win.”
He added, “I think every situation you can learn from, it just depends on the way you want to look at it. I try to look at them all as learning opportunities. Each one helps me get closer to actually getting a major.”
Johnson is one of three players to finish in the top 10 at both majors this season – the other two being Spieth and Rory McIlroy, currently on the sidelines with an ankle injury.
“Nothing bad happened at Chambers Bay so I wasn’t disappointed really, I played really well. I couldn’t control what the balls where doing on the greens there. There’s no bad feelings from that. And it carried over to today I played really well today,” said Johnson after his round Thursday.
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 16, 2015
Like Johnson, the 27-year old Aussie Day said all the right things about battling adversity in the lead-up to The Open.
“There are a lot of positives but the main one was to just really know what you have got with your back up against the wall,” said Day.
“Now you know you can push yourself an extra bit further. Even though you just want to give up and pack it in and walk away, which is easy to do, the hard thing to do is to stand up straight and keep moving forward and I was able to do that to an extent.”
After his opening round Thursday, Day commented that his Vertigo is feeling much better, which is great news to hear.
“It’s hard because everyone is playing well. You think you shoot 6-under you’d be on top of the leaderboard but you have to capitalize on opportunities or else you’ll be behind.”
Neither Johnson, ranked 4th in the world, or Day, ranked 9th in the world may end up winning on The Old Course this week. The last five winners of The British Open have played the Scottish Open the week prior; Johnson and Day sat out. But here’s a more important stat: the last six winners at St. Andrews were within two shots of the lead after the first round.
Johnson winning the British Open has Hollywood script written all over it. Day winning would be the classic overcoming every obstacle story. We’ll take either.