Dustin Johnson looks to defend title, return to championship form at Bridgestone Invitational

AKRON, OHIO - As his Wednesday press conference drew to a close, four trophies were brought to the podium for Dustin Johnson to pose with.

Three of the mementos were earned at the tournaments Johnson had won earlier this year. The fourth represented the title he's getting set to defend.

In many ways, Johnson enters this week's Bridgestone Invitational on top of the golf world. His three previous victories this season helped him achieve the world's No. 1 ranking, which he still holds heading into one of the three tournaments he won a season ago.

But in other ways, the 33-year-old is seeking a change in fortune. After winning three tournaments in a six-week stretch earlier this year, Johnson has yet to claim a victory since March 26, when he won the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.

"It just feels like it's been a long season," Johnson said. "I feel like this is a big part of the year here...for me, it's a really good time to get my game back in order and start to play some good golf."

Johnson admitted on Wednesday that he struggled to return to full strength after a back injury that forced him to withdraw from the Masters. In the two majors since, he missed the cut at the U.S. Open and finished tied for 54th at the Open Championship.

With the PGA Championship a week away, Johnson's return to Firestone marks one final chance for him to return to form before the final major of the year.

"It's getting there, I feel like. Last week [at the RBC Canadian Open], every day I was hitting my irons really well, which is something I've been struggling with a little bit," he said. "Something finally clicked and started hitting those really well."

Despite maintaining his world No. 1 ranking through his struggles, Johnson currently trails Open Championship winner Jordan Spieth in the FedEx Cup standings, 2,579-2359, with the playoffs set to begin Aug. 24.

Fortunately for Johnson, he's preparing to play a course that he's plenty familiar with -- and as evidenced by his Wednesday photo op, has found no shortage of success at.

"I like this golf course," the 15-time PGA Tour winner said. "Obviously, I won here last year. I feel like, especially if I'm driving the ball well, I'm going to play pretty well around here."

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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