DJ: I wouldn't be here if I wasn't ready to play

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Dustin Johnson says he is ready to play as many matches as Woods wants him to following his return from knee surgery, while U.S team members say he looks great

Dustin Johnson is set to make his return from knee surgery during the first day of fourball matches alongisde Gary Woodland at the Presidents Cup in Australia this Thursday.

The former World No.1, who underwent a 'routine arthroscopic surgery' following the Tour Championship in September to repair cartilage damage in his left knee, says he feels his game can definitely help the U.S. team.

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"I was always planning on playing," said Johnson. "I enjoy these events. It's a privilege to be part of these teams and it was something that, you know, unless I didn't feel like could I come here and help the team, then I wouldn't have came. But I feel like I definitely can help the team and the game is in good enough form to where I feel just fine."

Johnson had initially delayed his comeback by a week after pulling out of the Hero World Challenge to extend his time doing physical therapy and practicing, but was quick to dispel any concerns as he confirmed on Wednesday that he 'wouldn't be here' if his game wasn't ready. 

When asked about how often he is expecting to play this week, Johnson said he would play as many matches as Captain Tiger Woods wants him too.

"I would play most of them," said Johnson. "I'll play as many as Tiger wants me to play. I wouldn't be here if I wasn't ready to play."

dustin johnson

Johnson had started 2019 with two wins and runner-up finishes at both the Masters and PGA Championship before he evidently began struggle with his game, ultimately leading to the September surgery following his last place finish at the Tour Championship. 

According to the major champion, it then took him three or four weeks to start working on his short game and almost two months before he started with the rest of his game.

"I started hitting like -- when I was chipping and putting, you know, three, four weeks after [surgery]," Johnson explained, "but I didn't start hitting probably until six to eight weeks, like wedges and just kind of built up from there.

"I don't know, I didn't -- I wasn't like marking it down in my calendar or anything. Just whenever I felt obviously with my pt guy and my doctor, just working, whenever they kind of give me the clear to go.

"Everything was right on schedule. If anything, ahead of schedule. The only thing that took longer was with the driver. Everything else was fine. It was only when I wanted to hit one, get a little extra, that was the only time, but everything else was good."

And now, he says his game is ready to compete, and the players on his team made it clear they agree after watching him for the past couple of days. 

Late alternate Rickie Fowler, who is sitting out of the first session, said he was surprised that DJ decided to skip the Hero World Challenge, having been impressed when played with him over back at home in Florida.

"He's good," Fowler said. "I played with him also, whatever, three weekends ago at the Floridian pro-member. Yeah, I was surprised that he pulled out of Hero. I thought he was in a good spot. Part of that is I think he was looking forward to this week and didn't want to chance it playing the week before and not being 100 percent good to go.

"He's been playing great. He played the first day there at the Floridian, he might have shot 6-under 65. DJ is someone that really doesn't need a whole lot of work. He's a pretty amazing athlete and he finds a way to get it done."

Gary Woodland, who is making his rookie debut in the Presidents Cup in the fifth match of the contest alongside DJ, was similarly complimentary of his game, and said he expects to see him play quite a lot this week.

"DJ looks great," Woodland said. "Not many people -- I would say outside of Tiger Woods can take that kind of break off and come back and look pretty good. He had a significant break before, and he came back and won Memphis. He looked great the last two days. Yesterday you could maybe say he was a little rusty early in the round, made some birdies late. Today he played great. I expect him to be playing quite a bit this week."

Matt Kuchar echoed that sentiment, and believes if nobody knew he'd had surgery, you wouldn't be able to tell.

"We've had a couple days together," he said. "Yesterday was a day everybody was kind of getting over jet lag. But you could see kind of into the round his speed coming back. Same today, speed coming back. Man, he's such a talent. You'd hardly noticed he's had time off for surgery. If you didn't know about it, you wouldn't know"

Dustin Johnson will make his return playing with Gary Woodland against Abraham Ancer and Louis Oosthuizen (11:32 p.m GMT)