Johnson back in the groove

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson declared himself ready to challenge for victory after a tidy return to competition left him four strokes behind first-round leader Francesco Molinari at the Wells Fargo Championship yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Twenty-nine days after slipping down the stairs and badly bruising his back on the eve of the US Masters, Johnson reported no ill-effects after his morning round at Eagle Point.

He carded a two-under 70, while Italian Molinari chipped in twice to lead on 66, one stroke ahead of four players, including Swede Alex Noren.

Said Johnson: "I felt good physically, no issues.

"I just need to get some more rounds in, get some more reps, but I feel like the golf swing's in good shape.

"I hit the ball great. If I hit it like I did today (over) the next few days, I'll be right there on Sunday."

The only top-10 player in the field, Johnson was perhaps more satisfied with his performance than his score in his quest to become the first player since Tiger Woods in 2007/08 to notch four consecutive victories on the US PGA Tour.

"Since I hadn't played in so long, I'm happy with the way I played," he said.

"I didn't score that great, didn't hole many putts.

"I felt like I hit good putts, just (that) nothing was going in. All in all, I'm very pleased with the day."