“I was in a pretty bad head space,” he said.
But on Thursday, Wolff smiled easily even though his round was topsy-turvy. He was tied for the lead at one point at three-under par but slumped to one under a few holes later. Overall, Wolff had eight birdies, three bogeys and two double bogeys.
“A lot of good and a lot of bad,” Wolff answered with a snicker when asked to describe his play. “But that’s OK. That’s golf and I’m having fun with it. That’s what I have to focus on.
“Many millions of people would trade with me in a heartbeat. And I needed to just kind of get back and be like, ‘Dude, you live an unbelievable life, like you don’t always have to play good.’ I wanted to be too perfect. I wanted to always please the fans — maybe too much sometimes.”
Wolff’s 70 on Thursday had him three strokes off the championship’s early leader, Russell Henley, who shot 67. With half the field still finishing rounds, Francesco Molinari and Rafa Cabrera-Bello trailed Henley by one stroke. Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele, two of the pretournament favorites, were one stroke behind them. Phil Mickelson struggled throughout his round with five bogeys and shot 75. Viktor Hovland, a contemporary of Wolff’s whose impressive play this year has had made him a major championship contender, shot 74. Justin Thomas, who won this year’s Players Championship, opened with a two-over par 73.
Wolff, however, was not watching the scoreboard, even though he was the third-round leader at the 2020 U.S. Open and the eventual runner-up to Bryson DeChambeau.
“Like it’s awesome that I played well today, I mean, I’m thrilled,” said Wolff, adding that he did not watch golf on television during his two-month layoff. “But no matter what happened today the score that I shot I, like I said, I just have been having fun and I haven’t had fun out here in quite awhile.”