Johnsons horrific day opens door for others

By Associated PressJune 21, 2010, 7:59 am

2010 U.S. Open

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Dustin Johnson insisted he could handle the pressure.

Three painful holes over one cringe-inducing hour at the U.S. Open on Sunday proved he couldn’t.

Instead of backing up on his youthful confidence, Johnson added his name to a long, inglorious list of final-round collapses with one of golf’s biggest prizes on the line.

Johnson walked onto Pebble Beach with a three-shot lead, hoping to win his first major. Before he’d reached the fifth hole, he’d made triple-bogey, double-bogey and bogey – a disaster of a start that made him an afterthought while the other man in his twosome, Graeme McDowell, walked away with the trophy.

Johnson shot an 11-over 82 and finished tied for eighth place.

“Playing so poorly, I still had fun today,” Johnson said. “I enjoyed playing today. You know, (I’ll) get it done next time.”

Dustin Johnson
Johnson's 82 is the worst final round by a 54-hole leader since 1911. (Getty Images)

Maybe so. But he’ll walk away knowing that all he had to do was shoot 76, and he could have been the Open champ.

Instead, his day will be remembered alongside Gil Morgan’s Sunday collapse at Pebble 18 years ago, Retief Goosen’s 81 on the closing day at Pinehurst in 2005 and Aaron Baddeley’s 80 at Shinnecock in 2007.

“I felt sorry for him,” McDowell said.

Johnson, though, had only himself to blame.

His problems were self-induced and came during a three-hole stretch early in his round when Pebble is supposed to be its most vulnerable.

They began when he hit his approach shot into an awkward lie in a bunker on No. 2, then had to chip out left-handed. The ball barely squirted out, then Johnson’s fourth shot from the deep grass popped up and moved about two feet. He missed a 3-foot putt for double bogey and wound up with a 7. It was part of a triple-bogey, double-bogey, bogey stretch that sent him from 6 under to even.

His stubbornness didn’t help. Instead of playing safe and finding the fairway coming off the debacle on No. 2, Johnson hit driver on the third and watched helplessly as it landed near the 16th green. He couldn’t find the ball, had to go back to the tee and ended with a double. Then, on the drivable par-4 fourth, he hit 3-wood, and sliced it straight into the ocean.

Johnson’s 82 was the second-worst round of the day and the worst final round by a 54-hole leader since Fred McCloud’s 83 in 1911. And now, Johnson will be remembered in the same way as Morgan and the others.

“It can do that around this place,” Tiger Woods said. “Just because you are playing well it doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you. This golf course, it baits you into being aggressive.”

Having solved Pebble for wins in the past two February PGA Tour stops here, Johnson was being called the new “Prince of Pebble.” That tag was gone when his Saturday night lead evaporated before the fourth tee. He failed to make a birdie in his final round, after making 11 birdies and an eagle the first three days.

Succumbing to pressure is nothing new in the U.S. Open. But Johnson appeared so relaxed and at ease on Saturday in his masterful third round. While Woods was making his back-nine charge on Saturday, Johnson was quietly matching the world’s No. 1 player. Both shot 66, but it was Johnson five shots in front of Woods heading to Sunday.

“I’m going to have to be really patient,” Johnson said Saturday night. “If I keep hitting like I’ve been hitting and putting it in the spots on the green, then I’m going to be tough to beat.”

Problem is, Johnson did none of that, bringing the rest of the field back into play with his early problems instead of pulling away.

“I think there were a number of guys that as soon as Dustin made a triple, it was a wide-open tournament,” Phil Mickelson said. “Many guys had a chance.”

Johnson shored up his game on the back, but still made bogeys at 11, 12, 16 and 17. His day was capped by a deflating three-putt par on the 18th, just before watching McDowell tap-in to win the tournament.

“We’ve all been there and it’s not a lot of fun,” McDowell said.

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

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Green jacket tour

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Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

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Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

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Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

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Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm