WILMINGTON, North Carolina (Reuters) - World number one Dustin Johnson returns to competitive action at this week’s Wells Fargo Championship needing a win to join an elite group that includes some of the game’s greatest players.
Johnson has been sidelined due to a freak accident on the eve of last month’s U.S. Masters but a triumph at Eagle Point would make him only the fifth golfer in PGA Tour history to win four or more consecutive starts.
Should Johnson prevail over a field that includes five-times major winner Phil Mickelson and world number 11 Adam Scott, he would be the first player to record four consecutive victories on the PGA Tour since Tiger Woods in 2007-08.
”No one’s beaten me since February,“ a grinning Johnson, who grew up in nearby South Carolina, told a news conference on Wednesday. ”I was on a good roll, playing the best golf of my career leading into Augusta.
“Obviously I haven’t played much or done a whole lot of practising, but the body’s all good ... I’ve practiced enough to compete.”
Byron Nelson set the tour record for with 11 successive victories in 1945, while Woods, Ben Hogan and Jack Burke Jr. are the only other players with at least four.
While Johnson has been focused on healing his badly bruised back since slipping on a staircase in Augusta, former world number one Scott has been enjoying time with his wife and young daughter in Sweden.
”I put a lot into my game the month leading into the Masters,“ said Scott, who finished equal ninth at Augusta. ”I needed a break. Felt I needed to see my family and spend some good time with them.
“Then last week was a really intense week with training and getting myself back competitive again, fired up to play this week and next (at the Players Championship), and have a short three-week focus of putting in the hard yards and trying to get a result.”
Eagle Point is being used for the event this year because the regular venue, Quail Hollow in Charlotte, is hosting the PGA Championship, the year’s final major, in August.
The course is unfamiliar to most of a field that includes defending champion James Hahn and eight of the world’s top 20 golfers and has required more preparation than usual ahead of Thursday’s opening round.
“I‘m still, after two looks at the course, trying to figure out exactly how to go about it,” said Scott.
Editing by Frank Pingue