"I think that's the only thing with The Open, the luck of the draw goes into it, depending on the conditions".
The wind off the Irish Sea pushed away the rain clouds and bathed Royal Birkdale in sunshine, Stars and Stripes. I hit a few good shots out there.
Johnson was close to being a dominant figure when he won three straight tournaments against the strongest fields of the year at the time, and then he slipped down the stairs on the eve of the Masters, wrenched his back and didn't swing a club for a month. "It's not going to come out ideal every single time, but I'm definitely gaining a lot of confidence".
"Guys are winning younger, playing more fearless, even in major championships, and I just think that it's so hard now".
The last nine majors have all been won by a different name, going back to Jordan Spieth's back-to-back victories at the Masters and U.S. Open in 2015.
"For the R&A to give me that privilege at the first tee shot shows the respect for what they have for their Open champions, the respect to know that this was going to be my last Open Championship", he said. "If you can do that, you can get around here and shoot some good scores", he added.
He was even better Friday as sweater and umbrella weather returned to The Open Championship, carding birdies on three of his first six holes.
"I haven't been making as many putts as I did that year but I am striking the ball better than I did in '15". He is trying to use that as a model going forward.
This year's championship tees off today at Royal Birkdale in the town of Southport, north-west England, with Woods again absent. But his most memorable moment came early in the week when he played a practice round with Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Seve Ballesteros. "You get so excited for these tournaments, they're the biggest and best tournaments in the world".
Mark O'Meara had the job of getting the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale underway, but it didn't quite go to plan as he sliced his opening drive over the fence and out of bounds. "But I think Jack and I actually won that day".
"I felt the warmth of the crowd, obviously, coming up the 18th hole", O'Meara said.