Reigning champion Johnson upbeat despite late slip-ups


Zach Johnson suffered a frustrating finish to his second round at Royal Troon, but remains confident he can contend for another Open Championship title this weekend.

Johnson triumphed in a play-off at St Andrews 12 months ago and is among the leading challengers for the Claret Jug once again after following up his opening 67 with a one-under 70.

Despite dropping shots at 15 and 18, the reigning champion was handily placed in fifth - five behind leader Phil Mickelson - and seemingly unlikely to slip down the leaderboard as many of the afternoon starters struggled in strengthening winds.

Johnson had to contend with rain for much of his round, but did initially enjoy the day's best conditions after starting early on Friday.

"All in all I really had a great opportunity today to put a nice low number up. I feel like I gave a few back there at the end," said Johnson, who saw one of his playing partners, Henrik Stenson, shoot 65 to trail Mickelson by one. 

"I still feel like my best game is in front of me. I feel confident in the sense that I'm doing the right things.

"I'm in good position and good control of my golf game for the most part. But I think I'm in really good control of my emotions and certainly the mentality you've got to have to navigate a test like this.

"I feel like the best thing going for me right now is I haven't played my best yet and I can still go out and do that this weekend."

Assessing the changing conditions he faced, Johnson added: "The first four or five holes was pretty benign. We had a couple holes that were tough and then it slowed down again.

"But it felt like there were five, six holes where it was just [a case of] trying to keep one foot in front of the other and staying vertical. But that's what you expect.

"When that wind picks up, it's hard. When the wind picks up with rain, it's even more difficult."