It’s not too early in his career to label Dustin Johnson “The Best Player Never to Have Won a Major.”
The lanky 6-4, 190-pound, 26-year-old is already a four-time winner on the PGA Tour and finished fourth on the 2010 money list with almost $4.5 million. He hits the ball a ton--as evidenced by his 308.5-yard driving distance average last year--hits lots of greens and makes a load of birdies and eagles.
Of course, Johnson came close twice last year to never having to wear the above-mentioned notorious moniker, with his close calls at both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. The latter placed Johnson in golf’s folklore because of a crushing penalty he had to absorb for grounding his club in a “bunker” on the 72nd hole of the tournament and thus missing a playoff for the title. He also had a three-shot lead going into the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach but skied to an 82 in the fourth round to shoot himself out of contention.
In a display of his mental toughness and the talent he possesses, he bounced back from those disappointments and enjoyed a solid finish to the 2010 campaign, including a win at the BMW Championship during the FedEX Cup Playoffs at season’s end.
The former star at Coastal Carolina College (S.C.), who joined the PGA Tour in 2008, seems poised to be “the next big thing,” both literally and figuratively, on the Tour.
Johnson takes a pragmatic approach to his up and down 2010 season, saying that he accomplished a number of his goals and learned from his disappointments.
“Winning the AT&T Pebble Beach was great and being a contender at the U.S Open and the PGA Championship was amazing.” On the latter two he said, “I don’t really feel like they were disappointing experiences. The results at the PGA and U.S. Open made me a stronger player and more excited for my first major victory. I understood the situations and played well. I did the best I could and a lot of good things came out of those two weeks.”
Johnson said he didn’t mind the blazing glare of all the media attention after he blew the lead at the U.S. Open and then had his bad luck ruling at the PGA Championship.
“I don’t really read the press but from what I have heard they were great and very supportive. My fans are awesome and for that I’m lucky.”
Johnson has some lofty goals for 2011.
“I had a great year in 2010 and if I keep playing this way I believe I have a chance at to win a major. I believe I also have the ability and strength to be a regular Ryder Cup member. If I keep playing like I am then there is no doubt about that. It’s exciting to think about doing that.”
Johnson and TaylorMade have developed a strong and fruitful professional relationship and marriage of talents and technology that Johnson believes has helped make him a better player.
“I have a great relationship with TaylorMade and I’m lucky there. The Tour reps take good care of me…they are supportive and work to make sure everything is right. It’s important that my equipment is fit and it makes it easy to have everything dialed in with the TaylorMade guys.”
Johnson said he “isn’t a tinkerer” when it comes to his equipment, although he does enjoy checking out the latest products that come out of TaylorMade’s R and D department.
“I like product but I rarely change my clubs. I stick with what I know and what works. I used to change my wedges often but with TaylorMade’s xFT wedges, the interchangeable face makes it so I only have to replace the grooves not the whole club. I like that.”