(Editor’s word: This is Part II in a seven-part series on the life and profession of reigning Masters champion Dustin Johnson. Check again to Golfweek.com every day for the following a part of the story.)
As Dustin Johnson sauntered up the hill towards the 18th inexperienced on Masters Sunday final November, he turned to his brother and caddie, Austin, and requested him the place he stood on the leaderboard.
“What do you mean where do you stand?”
Austin then informed his older brother that he was 5 pictures clear and simply minutes away from sharpening off a exceptional, record-setting romp to win the inexperienced jacket.
“I told him I could win the Masters from where he was,” Austin stated. “And he did the same thing at Oakmont on the final hole on Sunday when he won the (2016) U.S. Open. That’s DJ.”
Yes, by and thru, that’s DJ. As a lot as his video-game bodily presents separate him from most everybody on the planet, his uncanny knack for specializing in the matter at hand or escaping to a different world the place there isn’t a noise and distraction is pure, enviable genius.
“I call it DJ Island,” Austin stated. “I remember so many times that he’d be watching a TV show and I’m having a full-on conversation with him and then he’d just look at me and go ‘What?’ He just has this ability to check out and go to his own little island. It’s him there and no one else. He puts things in the rearview and just looks at the upcoming road. No matter what has happened.
And useful in the world of golf.
His fleeting reminiscence permits him to maneuver on like no different golfer, irrespective of how tragic the consequence. And there have been many soul crushers, beginning with the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, the place he blew a three-shot, 54-hole lead with a final-round 82. Two months later in the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, he grounded his membership in a bunker he didn’t suppose was a bunker on the 72nd gap. The ensuing two-shot penalty price him a spot in a playoff.
In 2011, he was in competition deep into the ultimate spherical of the Open Championship at Royal St. George’s earlier than he hit a 2-iron out of bounds. In the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, he three-putted from 12 toes on the 72nd gap and completed one shot behind Jordan Spieth.
Losses like that go away scars and create demons who arrange store between the ears. But not for DJ. Without query, the losses damage Johnson, some greater than others, however they don’t stay haunting – and positively not lasting – reminiscences.
“I always jokingly use the phrase he was dipped in Teflon at birth,” stated David Winkle, Johnson’s longtime agent. “At Chambers Bay, we get in a car to go up to the makeshift clubhouse area and it was about a minute and we get up and he gets out of the car and goes immediately to a place where kids are yelling for autographs and he signs all their stuff.
“We get in the car to leave. And it’s kind of quiet. And Dustin pulls the car over and says, ‘Guys, lighten up. It’s just golf.’ And I thought, good lord. Here we are trying to lift him up and he lifted us up. This guy is unbelievable.
“And I’ll never forget the 2011 British Open. I think he’s devastated. But he walks out of scoring and high-fives me and goes, ‘Best finish in a major, Winky.’”
But that’s the way in which Johnson has all the time been.
“Even as a kid or a junior golfer, I’ve always had the ability to get over things right away, especially with golf,” Johnson stated. “I don’t know where exactly it comes from, but obviously it’s good for a golfer because there are so many things that happen, and weird things that happen, especially to me.
“At the end of the day, it’s still a game. I love the game. But there is zero I can do to change something that’s already happened. I just keep trying to push forward.”
That’s what he did in the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont, which is an 18-hole migraine-level headache. Johnson, with all his immense abilities, had but to win a major, however he was properly inside attain of profitable his first. And then chaos erupted.
On the fifth gap in the ultimate spherical, Johnson had a 6-footer for par however his ball moved a hair at tackle. Johnson knew he didn’t trigger the ball to maneuver, the foundations official agreed and no penalty was administered.
But as he walked to the twelfth tee with a two-shot lead, he was met by USGA officers who informed him the incident was being reviewed and he could also be assessed a penalty. Thus, Johnson and others chasing the title didn’t know the place everybody stood on the leaderboard as a result of the governing physique’s willpower was on maintain.
Dustin Johnson talks with USGA official Mark Newell after Johnson’s ball moved on a inexperienced at Oakmont in the 2016 U.S. Open. (Getty Images/David Cannon)
“I don’t think it could have happened to a better player out there. Maybe Adam Scott,” Austin Johnson stated. “But Dustin just looked at me and said, ‘I guess we have to win by two,’ and ripped a drive 370 yards. Lee Westwood’s caddie, Billy Foster, had to calm me down. But Dustin just went about his business.
“I still get blown away by what he’s able to do sometimes in situations like that.”
Johnson played the final seven holes in even par, along with his towering 6-iron from 191 yards to 4 toes for birdie on the 72nd gap cementing victory. The USGA determined to dock him one stroke, but it surely proved meaningless as he signed his corrected scorecard of 1-under 69 to complete three pictures away from Jim Furyk, Scott Piercy and Shane Lowry.
“Dustin was the class player of the day,” Foster stated. “For the USGA to come out on the 12th tee and say you may or may not have a penalty, I thought was disgraceful. Respect to DJ. That’s why I bowed to him on the 18th hole.”
Paul Azinger, the victorious Ryder Cup captain in 2008 and the 1993 PGA Championship winner, was the lead analyst on the time and referred to as Johnson’s triumph one of many best wins in the historical past of golf.
“When you consider having your gut ripped out the previous year in the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay and then the following year he has to deal with that ruling thing in the final round and he wins, that’s something next level,” Azinger stated. “DJ has that intangible. That’s the way Tom Watson was. They put the past behind them and are always moving on. It’s extraordinary.”