By Simon Evans
SOUTHPORT, England (Reuters) - World number one Dustin Johnson believes he is entering the British Open close to his best again after recovering from the injury he suffered prior to the U.S. Masters in April.
Johnson won three tournaments in a row ahead of Augusta. But the back injury he suffered during a staircase fall at his rental home in Georgia ruled him out of the year's first major.
The American returned to action in early May, finishing tied for second at the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina. But he failed to make the cut at the Memorial tournament in Ohio and last month's U.S. Open, where he was the defending champion.
"I feel like the game is starting to get back to what it was" he said. "I'm definitely hitting it a lot better. I feel like the putter is starting to roll a little bit better. That was really the only thing that at Muirfield (The Memorial), and at the U.S. Open, I mean it was really just putting.
"But after the injury at Augusta I spent a lot of time working on my swing and kind of not much time working on the short game. So that was not by design, but just kind of how it went."
Johnson, who recently became a father for the second time, will be making his debut at Royal Birkdale as he looks to go one better than his best result at a British Open - a tied for second at Royal St George's in 2011.
"I really like the golf course. Obviously it's my first time here. But I got over here early; I got here on Saturday. So I've gotten a lot of practise on the course. And I feel like it sets up well for me," he said.
"But it's like any Open Championship, you've just got to control your golf ball. If you can do that, you can get around here and shoot some good scores," he added.
The challenge of links golf is one that Johnson says he relishes.
"I feel like I play well over here. I like this kind of golf. You use a lot of imagination. You've got to use a lot of different shots. I really enjoy coming over here and playing."
(Reporting by Simon Evans)