Johnson starts strong in PGA's Palmetto

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Dustin Johnson has got off to a fast start at the Palmetto Championship, shooting a six-under 65 that left him a shot behind leader Wes Roach.

The world No.1 hasn't played since missing the cut at the PGA Championship on Kiawah Island last month, but his effort cast aside concerns one week out from the US Open.

It appeared Johnson might hold a share of the lead before Roach, a 32-year-old seeking his first PGA Tour victory, rolled in a 19-footer for a go-ahead birdie on the 16th hole.

Still, Johnson had a smooth, bogey-free round in the field's first try at the Congaree Golf Club as the replacement tournament for the cancelled RBC Canadian Open, called off for a second straight season due to COVID-19 concerns.

Roach, splitting time on the PGA and Korn Ferry tours this season, shot his lowest PGA Tour round since November 2019. He was a stroke in front of Johnson, Doc Redman, Chesson Hadley and South Africa's Erik van Rooyen.

Roach eagled the par-5 fourth, holing out from 105 yards on the 633-yard hole.

"I did everything pretty well," Roach said. "I drove it nice, I putted as good as I have in a while and I made it ... on the fourth hole, so that was a nice bonus as well."

Johnson was headed in the wrong direction at the Ocean Course three weeks ago, missing a major cut for the second time in as many months.

But if anyone doubted his readiness for the US Open, Johnson easily brushed that aside with his stellar play over the firm fairways and curvy greens at the four-year-old Tom Fazio course.

At Congaree, he had four birdies in a seven-hole stretch, all on putts 10 feet or less including a two-putt birdie on the drivable, 370-yard third. Johnson chipped in from 82 feet away for his final birdie on No. 9 to tie Redman for the lead among the morning starters.

"I felt like I've been swinging well for a while now, just haven't really seen the results or seen the scores," Johnson said. "Made a few putts, but yeah, I mean just playing solid. Finally put a round together."

Brooks Koepka, playing for the first time since finishing second to Phil Mickelson at the PGA Championship, opened with a 72 and was seven shots behind the leaders.

Koepka is the only other top-10 player in this field, the last before the season's third major.

Australians Aaron Baddeley and Rhein Gibson shot one-under 70s to be tied 41st, six behind the lead.