Golf: Top-ranked Dustin Johnson confident this Players Championship will be different

Dustin Johnson of the United States plays a shot during a practice round prior to the THE PLAYERS Championship.
Dustin Johnson of the United States plays a shot during a practice round prior to the THE PLAYERS Championship.PHOTO: AFP

NORTH CAROLINA (REUTERS) - Sterling play has been a challenge for Dustin Johnson at The Players Championship, but the American world No.1 is hoping this week's tournament will be more indicative of his recent success.

"I think my game as a whole has gotten a lot better," Johnson, whose previous best finish in eight starts at The Players has been a tie for 28th, told a news conference in Ponte Vedra, Florida on Wednesday.

Three victories and a tie for second in his last four starts have given the big hitter plenty of confidence, but he admitted TPC Sawgrass, where accuracy off the tee is often more important than length, will be a challenge.

"I haven't had a lot of success around here, so it's definitely a challenge for me," Johnson said. "But I feel like if I'm going to play well here, this is the time. "Everything throughout my whole game is in really good form right now."

Johnson rebounded from an unlucky fall that ruled him out of the Masters to tie for second in last week's Wells Fargo Championship, coming on strong over the last 36 holes after barely making the halfway cut.

His confidence - and game - are continuing to improve, Johnson said, as he prepares to face Masters winner Sergio Garcia, newlywed Rory McIlroy and defending champion Jason Day.

"I played a lot better on the weekend," Johnson said. "I've had a couple good practice days the last two days, so I'm excited to get the tournament started."

But Johnson, who has only broken 70 twice in 26 rounds at TPC Sawgrass, knows the Florida layout can challenge the best.

While a couple of holes have been lengthened since last year, the course still favours precision over power, especially when conditions are firm, as they were on tournament eve.

"This golf course is tough," he said. "You've got to have all facets of your game working if you want to contend around here.

"You've got to be doing everything well because you've got to hit all kinds of different shots, every club in your bag, and you've got to really control your golf ball."