By Tony Jimenez
SANDWICH, England (Reuters) - World number 12 Dustin Johnson was in no fit state to celebrate despite producing a spectacular burst of scoring, including a hole-in-one, at the British Open on Thursday.
The big-hitting American, battling against illness, was four-over-par after 12 but roared into contention by cramming an eagle and three birdies into a four-hole stretch from the 14th.
Johnson's eagle came at the 163-yard, par-three 16th after he struck a big, looping hook that landed on the green before taking a few bounces and diving straight into the cup.
The hole-in-one seemed to be the last thing on his mind, though, when he walked off the 18th green.
"I'm not very excited at all," Johnson told reporters after carding a level-par first round. "I'm going to go home and sleep because I'm not feeling that well -- my glands are swollen.
"I've got some kind of infection. I'm on antibiotics so hopefully it'll go away."
Johnson, making his third appearance at the Open after missing the cut at Turnberry in 2009 and finishing tied 14th at St Andrews last year, said he knew he needed some special golf on the back nine.
"Standing on 14 I wanted to make a few birdies and give myself a chance to get back in this thing," said the 27-year-old who wasted his chance of winning the 2010 U.S. PGA Championship by incurring a two-shot penalty for grounding his club in sand at the 72nd hole.
"If you would have bet me money that I would be one-under-par standing on the 18th tee I would have taken it," he said.
Johnson did not remain one-under for long, bogeying the last to finish with a 70.
(Editing by Ken Ferri)