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Noise? What noise? Dustin Johnson avoiding distractions, contending at The Open

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ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – There is no noise if you willfully don’t listen to the noise. Or, in Dustin Johnson’s case, don’t read about controversial topics.

Johnson followed his opening 68 with a 5-under 67 on Friday at the Old Course to grab the clubhouse lead in the 150th Open Championship. As is customary for leaders, Johnson was escorted to the press center to answer questions from the media. This occasion, however, marked the first time this week that a LIV Golf member had sat down behind a mic in the tented area.

None of the LIV players were on the pre-championship interview list and only 18-hole leader Cameron Young and Rory McIlroy came inside on Thursday.

Full-field scores from the 150th Open Championship

Johnson faced a handful of LIV-related questions and, one by one, he swatted them away with simplistic responses that made it clear: He doesn’t care.

“Not me because, honestly, I don't read anything,” Johnson said. “So I wouldn't know what you were saying or if there was anything negative being said. I don't pay attention to it."

Johnson was criticized in the media – and by some fellow players – for initially saying he was dedicated to the PGA Tour and then bolting to the Saudi-backed league. Johnson was subsequently suspended by the PGA Tour but is in The Open via several qualifying criteria, none more prominent than being the 2020 Masters champion.

Along with the 2016 U.S. Open, Johnson is a two-time major winner. His best finish in this major is a T-2 at Royal St. George’s in 2011, one of four career top-10 finishes.

The former world No. 1 was the 36-hole leader at St. Andrews in 2015, but shot 75-75 over the weekend to finish tied for 49th. Asked about how he can avoid repeating history, Johnson replied, “To be honest, I don't even remember the third round from seven years ago. I've played a lot of golf since then, and that was a long time ago.”

The game plan now, he said, is the same as it was then and the same as it has been the last couple of days – adjust to the wind and avoid the bunkers.

And, no doubt, Johnson will avoid any off-course distractions.

“I don't read. I don't look at it. It doesn't bother me because, obviously, everyone has their own opinion and I have mine, and the only one I care about is mine,” he said.

That's all I try to do, is focus on myself and the golf. Everything else will take care of itself.”