Though he won the Travelers Championship a month prior, Johnson arrived in Blaine, Minn., fresh off a Memorial tournament in which he shot consecutive rounds of 80.
Still, he was the overwhelming favorite coming to Minnesota, a birdie course he was expected to pick apart. Instead, Johnson struggled to a first-round 78 and withdrew with back pain.
“Just wasn’t feeling good. The back was stiff, so it was tough for me to swing the way I wanted to. Obviously was struggling a little bit,” Johnson recalled Wednesday. “So went home, rested, got worked on, and obviously that was when I started playing really well after this.”
Really, really well. Johnson recorded a 12th-place finish the following week at the FedEx St. Jude Invitational, a World Golf Championship event. That marked his worst finish until he finished 54th at the next WGC event the following February — an 11-tournament span that featured four wins, including at the Masters, and three runner-up performances.
“Obviously went on a great run there,” Johnson said. “I was working hard on the game and got to where it felt like I was seeing just the same things