Spieth started his week at St Andrews in positive fashion, carding a five-under-par 67, but he found himself two strokes behind playing partner Johnson at the end of their first 18 holes.
The 21-year-old is continuing his bid for a grand slam after winning the Masters and US Open earlier this season, where he beat Johnson in a tense finish, and he was pleased to end the first round in contention despite a somewhat sloppy back nine.
Spieth reached six under at the 11th, when he made his sixth birdie of the round, but he could only limp in one over from that point with dropped shots at the 13th and 17th.
“I’m very pleased with the start,” he said. “You need to put yourself in??good position to have some shots to spare and not worry about a cut line or??anything.
“If DJ keeps driving it the way he is, then I’m going to have to??play my best golf to have a chance. He really doesn’t play bad, ever.
“I enjoy playing with Dustin. I’ve played a lot of golf with??him. There was no chat about the US Open at all – as I wouldn’t imagine there would be. We just got off to a normal round of golf like always, and we were able to actually feed off each other and enjoy the day.”
Spieth now has to think about the likelihood of very different conditions on Friday, with the wind expected to pick up and heavy rain possible at times, a forecast that makes his opening round all the more important.
“It’s definitely going to be a brutal day tomorrow,” he added.
“We just don’t??know when the rain is going to start, when it’s going to stop. I think that??tomorrow is a true Scottish day that we all should enjoy the challenge ahead.”