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What’s really going on in Dustin Johnson’s head? Coaches and competitors say it’s more than DJ lets on.


(Editor’s word: This is Part VI 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 subsequent a part of the story.)

The brilliance of Dustin Johnson is his uncluttered thoughts.

While many fellow professionals can go on and on about course administration and others can discuss endlessly concerning the advanced ideas of the golf swing, Johnson’s simplistic lifestyle and placing the golf ball in the outlet does simply effective.

He isn’t about to take a seat down with the Mad Scientist, Bryson DeChambeau, and converse concerning the relationship between mass and velocity or do a deep dive on air density and native slope adjustment. And he doesn’t have a lot to say concerning the psychology of dealing with the sport’s mind-numbing disturbances.

But due to his unwavering and carefree demeanor, a number of notorious gaffes through the years on the golf course and his distant look throughout press conferences – the place he usually responds to long-winded questions with transient frankness – many are likely to query his intelligence.

He has served as a punchline for followers on Twitter, been disrespected by the media at occasions and even disrespected by a number of of his colleagues. Thus, regardless of successful a U.S. Open and final November’s Masters, accumulating 22 different PGA Tour titles in addition to a FedEx Cup, and reaching No. 1 in the world, his thoughts is never credited as a power.

Well, because the English idiom goes, don’t decide a ebook by its cowl.

“People don’t think he’s the smartest guy in the room and I think it’s because he’s got the southern drawl and he kind of talks slow, but that’s just how he talks and if it makes him sound maybe not the smartest, then so be it,” mentioned 2007 U.S. Amateur champion Colt Knost, who roomed with Johnson the primary yr they turned professional. “He might not be book smart but he’s smart. And he’s like Rain Man when it comes to his golf IQ. I’ll bet you he can go through and tell you every shot he hit last year on the PGA Tour.

“He knows what’s going on, he knows how to manage his game now as good as anybody, he knows what he’s looking for in his equipment and he knows a lot about the golf swing even though he doesn’t let on that he does.

“Sounds pretty smart to me.”

Johnson simply shrugged when requested if he’s bothered by the unflattering notion that he isn’t the sharpest software in the field.

“I don’t know. Don’t really care about what others think,” he mentioned.

Others, nevertheless, do care.

“He isn’t stupid. He’s sly like a fox,” mentioned swing coach Butch Harmon, who began working with Johnson in 2009. “He gives a lot of those short answers because he doesn’t want you to bother him. To me, that makes him pretty smart. Now, does he have a lot of book smarts? I don’t know. And he can say some pretty crazy things at times, but he is not dumb.

“He understands his game and he understands what he’s good at and he understands what to do in the heat of the battle. He’s matured golf-wise and he’s become an incredibly intelligent player. That was one of Tiger’s great strengths – he knew when to be conservative. DJ has come to understand that.”

David Winkle, Johnson’s longtime agent, introduced up the time six years in the past when TaylorMade introduced collectively their heavy hitters together with Johnson, Jason Day, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia for a number of days of picture and video shoots. There additionally was a psychological profile examination with 144 questions.

“They wanted to get into the mind of a champion,” Winkle mentioned. “And the expert who was analyzing the responses said there was one guy who has an innate ability to go into a cocoon of concentration like nothing he has ever seen.

“And it turned out to be Dustin’s profile. He gets into depths of concentration at times where he turns it on and turns it off, whether he’s ordering fast food or coming down the last hole of the Masters.”

Johnson’s mind-set actually performed into his record-smashing victory in the 2020 Masters. He dialed again his aggression when wanted, trusted his top-flight precision and didn’t buckle in the ultimate spherical when his lead practically vanished and one other tragic ending – equivalent to his three-putt from 12 toes on the 72nd gap of the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay that value him an opportunity on the title – appeared imminent.

“I think other than Jack and Tiger he has one of the greatest golf minds in competitive history,” mentioned Claude Harmon, Johnson’s common swing coach and son of Butch Harmon. “When he missed that putt at Chambers Bay and was walking off the green in ’15, and I would have told you all that would have happened from that point onward to here, would you have believed it? The scars are too deep, he’s never going to come back from that, all that.

“He’s just a very unique golfer. If you could design a golfer, you’d design him; no memory, just freak athlete, and we’re seeing an incredible amount of maturity from the last time that he won a major.”

Four-time main champion Rory McIlroy was equally impressed. McIlroy mentioned he thinks Johnson has probably the greatest attitudes towards golf in the historical past of the sport.

“And when he wants to engage with you and have a proper conversation about whatever topic it is, he can have it,” McIlroy mentioned. “He just would rather not have it with you guys (media). That’s basically what it is. He saves that for his inner circle and the people he trusts and the people that he likes.

“When you are friends with him and you spend a lot of time with him, he’s much more engaging than a lot of people think.

“And he’s basically done everything there is to do in the game, and he’s done that by basically changing his game after turning pro. That’s a huge compliment. Not a lot of people can do that.”

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