Dustin Johnson showcases his quality

For all the fire that Patrick Reed brings to the course and for all the emotion his partner, Jordan Spieth, provides, there is always a reminder that there’s another way to bring leadership.

Dustin Johnson showcases his quality

You just have to make your way down to Dustin Johnson. He is the ice opposite Reed’s fire; he is the calm against Spieth’s emotion. But best you not interpret Johnson’s stoic demeanour to think he lacks passion.

He surely does not.

But he has been forthright about having lost his way, which is why he wasn’t with the US Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles in 2014.

Having taken a leave of absence from the PGA Tour in 2014 to address “personal problems”, Johnson is not often mentioned when critics start dissecting what went wrong under Tom Watson’s guidance in 2014.

The deflating loss ignited a Phil Mickelson-led mutiny, but consideration should have been given to this: Would the Americans have won with Johnson in the lineup?

It’s pure conjecture, of course, but it took less than one of Johnson’s ferocious swings yesterday morning to think that yes, he’d have tipped the scales at Gleneagles.

No shock that Johnson was in the fourth and final foursomes groups in the morning session. Johnson doesn’t run, he saunters in, so let fire and emotion go first; he’s happy to be there for the knockout punch.

Anyway, in the alternate-shot format, Johnson’s European opponent, Lee Westwood, was wide right and in a bunker with his drive when the American seized the opening. He hammered his tee ball 330 yards centre cut and pretty much told Matt Kuchar to hop on his back.

It was 14 holes of pure power and near-flawless foursomes as Johnson and Matt Kuchar thrashed Lee Westwood and Thomas Pieters, 5 and 4.

Now Kuchar is as dependable a foursomes partner as one could want — a fairways and greens machine — but clearly Johnson was behind the wheel of this one.

And when you started flipping through the pages of the media guide, you realised that it was his fifth straight victory in the Ryder Cup, dating back to the singles session in 2010.

He then went 3-0 in 2012, winning twice in fourball with Kuchar and easily in singles over Nicolas Colsaerts. In this stretch of five wins, Johnson has played just 75 holes and he’s trailed for exactly one of them.


If you’re an American loyalist, you want to bemoan the fact that Johnson was not in the Gleneagles lineup, but stand back from the passion for sports competition and appreciate that the tall and gangly American faced his demons to put his life in a new direction.

At 32 and in his ninth year on the PGA Tour, Johnson has already had a life’s worth of rollercoaster rides.

Only a heralded name such as Tiger Woods can match what Johnson has done — record at least one in each of his first nine seasons — but unlike the incomparable Woods, Johnson and the major championships have not gotten along.

Johnson historians know the deal — that he could have won the 2010 US Open, the 2010 PGA Championship, or the 2011 Open if not for a closing 82, a grounded club in a bunker, or an OB shot at Royal St George’s, respectively.

Mulligans aren’t in play at the pro level, of course, so Johnson has had to play on. But whereas such adversity might have crushed most competitors, it didn’t faze Johnson. No one let’s things roll off his back like him.

He squandered chances to win the 2015 US Open and 2015 Open, but guess what? Even the controversial penalty for a ball moving didn’t stop him from winning the US Open. And Johnson has seemingly hit his stride in recent months.

If you want to give the nod to Jason Day as world No 1 because of a computer, feel free. This corner feels that Johnson has been the best player in the past six months.

All of which means zero here at Hazeltine National because for years the top-ranked players in the world were Woods and Mickelson and that scared Europe not at all.

Likely, that’s true about Johnson, too, but here’s one man’s humble opinion: Johnson’s quiet and confident manner, though it lacks fire and emotion, will make him a more productive Ryder Cup player than either Woods or Mickelson.

The Americans will just have to accept that his absence in 2014 was for the betterment of the man’s life.

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