THE THOUGHT CAN CROSS ONE’S MIND: HOW DOES HE NOT WIN ALL THE TOUR­NA­MENTS?

National Post (National Edition) - - POST SPORTS - Sstin­son@post­media.com

That he is still ranked No. 1 in the world speaks to the big lead he once had, but af­ter Jor­dan Spi­eth’s win at the Open Cham­pi­onship, it’s now the 24-year old Texan who be­strides the golf world like a colos­sus. When the RBC Cana­dian Open be­gan at Glen Abbey on Thurs­day, Spi­eth’s ab­sence from the field, in terms of putting the event on the golf radar, was more no­table than John­son’s pres­ence in it.

But through two rounds in Oakville, John­son has flashed hints of his world-beat­ing form. A 3-un­der 69 on Fri­day left him at 8-un­der for the tour­na­ment, within strik­ing dis­tance of the lead head­ing into the week­end. More sig­nif­i­cantly, 69 was about the worst he could have scored with the way he was hit­ting it.

“I’m hit­ting the ball good,” John­son said. This counts as ef­fer­ves­cence, com­ing from the la­conic Caroli­nan. “I hit a lot of good putts that didn’t go in the hole. I still feel re­ally good with the put­ter. I feel like I’m rolling it well.” I tell you, the man is thrilled.

He’s not wrong, either. In one stretch on Fri­day, he left a birdie putt just short of the hole on 14, lipped out a birdie at­tempt on 15, fi­nally made a birdie putt on 16 and then burned the edge of the hole with birdie tries on 17 and 18. That close to go­ing re­ally low.

It’s lit­tle won­der that, al­most alone among the top pros who do not wear an RBC logo on their sleeve, John­son keeps com­ing back to Glen Abbey. The course sur­ren­ders a lot of ea­gles — the most on Tour since 2013 — and it has also seen the most 320-yard­plus drives, although at least some of that is due to the dry con­di­tions of the past two years, when balls were bound­ing down the fair­ways like they were air­port run­ways. It is well suited to a guy who can bomb it long and rea­son­ably straight, which John­son does bet­ter than any­one.

It doesn’t hurt that he’s en­gaged to a Gret­zky. “The fans have been great since the first time I came,” he said ear­lier in the week. It’s def­i­nitely a big boost.” Also: “It’s a lot of fun.” This is John­son be­ing glee­ful.

He has rea­son enough to be pleased. Three months af­ter the in­jury at Au­gusta, John­son says he is al­most back to where he was. When he was win­ning all the time.

“Yeah, it’s re­ally close,” he said Fri­day. “The golf swing feels a lot bet­ter. I’m start­ing to hit a lot of good shots, a lot more con­sis­tent ball flight. It’s def­i­nitely mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion.”

Glen Abbey, be fore­warned.

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