Golf-Johnson's game 'really close' ahead of Valspar

FILE PHOTO: Apr 15, 2021; Hilton Head, South Carolina, USA; Dustin Johnson chips onto the green of the ninth hole during the first round of the RBC Heritage golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - World number one Dustin Johnson, whose recent bid to repeat as Masters champion resulted in a missed cut, said on Wednesday his game is trending in the right direction ahead of this week's Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida.

Johnson shared 13th place at the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head the week after the Masters and is now working to limit mistakes with his irons.

"I feel like it's really close," Johnson said at Innisbrook Resort when asked about the state of his game. "I just haven't put it all together, especially for a week.

"But I feel like I'm driving it good again. Just a little off with the irons at Hilton Head. Obviously, I hit a lot of good shots, but just didn't hit enough and made too many costly mistakes with the irons."

At the 2019 Valspar Championship Johnson entered the final round one stroke behind Paul Casey but closed with a 74 that snapped his streak of 14 consecutive rounds in the 60s and left him in a share of sixth.

The long-hitting American missed the cut in his two previous starts at the event in 2008 and 2010.

Innisbrook Resort's Copperhead course is a layout with narrow fairways and challenging greens culminating with tricky closing three-hole stretch known as the Snake Pit.

"You've really got to kind of think your way around here just because you can get out of position, and it's tough to make pars," Johnson said.

"I like it, too. You don't have to make a lot of birdies. You don't have to shoot way under par. You just shoot a couple under each day, and you're going to have a chance to win come Sunday."

Johnson will play the opening two rounds with world number two Justin Thomas and Chile's Joaquin Niemann.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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