Dustin Johnson has had the worst-best summer of any golfer. In two of four major championships, he’s played in the final group Both times he’s not only been experienced major letdowns, but he made mistakes so epic that they arguably overshadowed the winner. And both times he’s handled the disappointments better than most.
Because we like to conjure up painful memories, here’s a quick recap.
DJ had a three-shot lead going into the final round of the US Open and gave it back quickly with a gut-wrenching triple-bogey on the second hole, followed by a double-bogey to shoot himself out the tournament. He finished with an 81. Well, you know, at least he didn’t make it excruciating and post those numbers on the last two holes. Right?
Being Dustin Johnson, he shook it off rather gracefully. He finished T14 at the British Open — he hit his drive so far right that it went over the shops that line the 18th fairway at St. Andrews. Wait, why does that sound familiar?
At the PGA Championship he scrambled to take a one-shot lead going into the 72nd hole. He had a six-footer to win, but a miss would put him in a playoff with Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer. Before he could walk off the 18th green, rules official David Price confronted him that he might have incurred a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a bunker (I don’t have to explain this to you — everyone knows about Bunkergate). Minutes later, we watched DJ erase the “5” on his scorecard and change it to a “7.”
That was heartbreaking and anyone with a pulse felt for him.
Naturally, at The Barclays a group of reporters (including yours truly) gathered to interrogate DJ on his major mishaps. So, which was tougher to get over?
Neither. I mean, the PGA was just an unfortunate situation. But it wasn’t — it wasn’t hard to get over, because there’s a lot of good things that I can take out of that week, the way I played. I played really well coming down the stretch, making birdies when I needed to. So there’s nothing bad that I can take from that week.
Anyone else becoming an even bigger DJ fan? More important, has he read the local rules sheet for The Barclays yet?
No, I might do that.
Good idea except he’s not likely to find anything out of the ordinary at Ridgewood Country Club, a traditional and non-goofy track. But he plans to be more careful moving forward.
I’m going to think twice about it every time I get in a bunker. But I mean it’s just a lesson learned, I guess. And it will definitely — anytime I’m on any type of sand I’m going to be quite careful.
He also doesn’t blame his caddie, Bobby Gates. They’ve talked about it and Gates will remember to remind him to proceed carefully if he’s ever in a similar situation.
I can’t blame him at all because he never thought we were in a bunker. I didn’t either. And a lot of other people that looked at it. So I can’t blame him. It’s not his fault. It’s my fault, if anyone’s.
Few players would be able to handle two major heartbreaks in less than two months of the other. Most guys would have trouble winning a major because they wouldn’t be able to hurdle the mental block. But with DJ’s laid-back mind set, I have no doubt he’s already over it like he said he was. And I have no doubt that soon he’ll be hoisting the trophy in a major championship — instead of pondering over the past.