Dustin Johnson fires warning to Saudi International field with stunning 61 as Justin Rose wilts

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DJ was in imperious form around the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club. (Getty Images)
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Updated 01 February 2019

Dustin Johnson fires warning to Saudi International field with stunning 61 as Justin Rose wilts

  • American ace fires course record 61 to take halfway lead at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.
  • IT was the world No. 3's lowest ever round but he claims he can get even better.

LONDON: He may have shot his best round ever but Dustin Johnson claimed he still was not in top gear as he took the lead at the halfway point in the inaugural Saudi International.

Last May the American ace was the first golfer confirmed, amid much fanfare, to be teeing it up at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club. He was the marquee signing and he justified that star billing with an impressive nine-under 61. He fired seven birdies and one eagle to set the new course record and produce his lowest round ever. It was evidence, if any was needed, that when on song few golfers can keep up with the world No. 3.

But the 34-year-old warned the chasing pack he can get even better.

“Yeah, it was a very good round,” the 2016 US Open winner said.

“I’ve played quite a few good ones, so I wouldn’t say it was the best, but it was a low score. I played really solid all day and gave myself a lot of opportunities. Yeah, it was a very good round.”

Justin Rose's tournament is already over as the world No.1 missed the cut by two shots. 

Despite winning more tournaments than anyone over the past five years, there is a sense that “DJ” has been underachieving. For a player of his talent — big booming drives, solid iron play and an under-appreciated touch around the greens — just the solitary Major to his name is scant reward for a player that when in form few can match. If he were to go on and become the first winner of this event, it would give the organizers the big-name win they probably crave and Johnson the win that can set up a stab at more Major victories.

Friday’s round illustrated everything good about his game and the simplicity with which he goes about scoring low. In marked contrast to current man-of-the-moment Bryson DeChambeau, Johnson’s philosophy is very much see ball, hit ball. He was enjoying his time out on the course and at one stage looked like he was going to shoot the European Tour’s second 59.

“Obviously you always have fun when you’re playing well, but yeah, I did a lot of the same things I did (on Thursday),” he said.

“The greens rolled a little bit better today. I felt like I paid a lot more attention to exactly what the putts were going to do and just kind of tried to make sure I just trusted the line that I was playing and made some putts today. You know, drove it really well and gave myself a lot of opportunities.

“I was trying to go birdie-birdie, but I never really thought about (getting a 59).

“I wasn’t even thinking it was a par-70. I was just trying to keep getting my score lower and lower.”

He may not have broken 60 or have played at his very best, but Johnson is sure he can keep up the pace he has set so far this week.

“I like the golf course. I’m driving it really well right now, so if I keep hitting it in the fairway, I’m going to really like this golf course,” he said.

In Johnson’s favor is the fact that Justin Rose missed the cut and will not play this weekend. The world No. 1 shot a two-over 72 to miss out by two shots and he was left to bemoan his first round when he finished level par having missed several putts. 

“This course played really tough today,” the Englishman said. 

“It’s a real challenge, and yeah, you’ve got to be pretty pinpoint with your iron play, what with the ledges the pins are on. 

“But I just look back at really the first 12 holes yesterday, really should have been six, seven, eight-under par.”


Luis Suarez suspected of cheating on Italian exam

Updated 22 September 2020

Luis Suarez suspected of cheating on Italian exam

  • The Italian exam was a first step required in order to receive a passport ahead of a possible transfer to Juventus
  • Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo said a proposed deal for Suarez was unlikely to go ahead because of delays in the Uruguayan’s bid to get an Italian passport

ROME: Barcelona forward Luis Suarez is suspected of cheating to pass his Italian language test with the help of his teachers, the Perugia prosecutor’s department in charge of the investigation said on Tuesday.
The Italian exam was a first step required in order to receive a passport ahead of a possible transfer to Juventus.
“The investigation showed that the subjects discussed during the exam were agreed beforehand with the candidate and that the grade was awarded to him even before the test,” the prosecutor’s department said in a statement.
Local prosecutor Raffaele Cantone, a former head of Italy’s National Anti-Corruption Authority, had been carrying out an investigation since February into University for Foreigners officials over various irregularities. Suspicions over Suarez were aroused by an overheard conversation.
“But what do you think, that we’re going to fail him? Today I have the last lesson (with Suarez) and I have to prepare it because he barely speaks a word” of Italian, Stefania Spina, one of the people targeted by the investigation, is claimed to have said according to prosecution documents cited by Italian media.
Asked by a colleague what level Suarez “should pass” in Italian, Spina reportedly replied: “He should not, he must, he will pass, because with a salary of 10 million (euros) per season, you can’t make him fail” his exam, “even if he doesn’t know how to conjugate verbs and speak in the infinitive.”
Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo said last week a proposed deal for Suarez was unlikely to go ahead because of delays in the Uruguayan’s bid to get an Italian passport.
The Italian champions cannot recruit Suarez otherwise because they have already reached their quota for non-EU players.