Johnson stakes claim as top young American

By Doug FergusonAugust 28, 2011, 10:56 pm

EDISON, N.J. – Dustin Johnson had only one thought after winning The Barclays, which he first told his caddie as they left the 18th green and later swing coach Butch Harmon on his way to the airport.

It’s about time.

Johnson is in that elite group of players who expect to win every year, no matter how much harder that has become these days on the PGA Tour. He has the whole package. Not only is he among the longest hitters in golf, he is not afraid to take on any shot under any situation.

But it had been nearly a year since he won the BMW Championship last year, and time was running out.

“We’ve both been frustrated all year that he hadn’t won,” Harmon said Sunday. “He’s been playing well tee-to-green, but his putting has let him down. But this kid is really resilient. Even if he messes up, as we’ve seen, it’s like water off a duck’s back. He keeps playing, and that’s his biggest strength. He’s a very aggressive player, and he continues to play aggressively.”

That much was clear at The Barclays, which was reduced to 54 holes when it became clear Hurricane Irene was on the way. Plainfield Country Club already was soft from rain, and Johnson simply overpowered it to eventually overtake Matt Kuchar on Saturday.

Johnson is as long as he needs to be, one of those players who has an extra gear with his driver. He appeared to be in overdrive for the final 36 holes, with four of the par 4s that he could reach or nearly reach off the tee.

He took the lead for good with a drive on No. 4 that went into the front bunker. In the sand for the first time all week, he holed the shot from about 85 feet for eagle. And on the ninth, he hammered his tee shot into another bunker that was pin-high, and although he had an awkward stance, he did well to get it out to 12 feet and make another birdie.

Johnson closed with nine pars, although the pins were tucked on the back nine, and shot 65 for a one-shot victory.

Not only was it the fifth career win for the 27-year-old Johnson - the most of any American in his 20s - he became the first player since Tiger Woods in 1999 to go straight from college and win in each of his first four years on the PGA Tour.

These are the kind of statistics that don’t lie.

“Guys like Dustin Johnson can make golf seem really easy,” Kuchar said, who held his own until back-to-back bogeys to shoot 68. “I don’t know if I’ve seen a guy drive the ball a whole lot better than Dustin Johnson. If you could have any one attribute as a golfer … you would want to hit it that far and that accurate.

“From there, golf gets a whole lot easier.”

Johnson has still managed to make it hard on himself at times. He was in the last group at Doral and hit the ball beautifully, only to miss just about every putt that mattered and finish runner-up to Nick Watney. He also got into contention at the British Open until one bad swing - a 2-iron that went out-of-bounds on the par-5 14th - ended his hopes.

The Barclays was a big win for Johnson.

For one thing, it put him atop the FedEx Cup standings and gave him a nose in front as players chase the $10 million prize. It also removed any doubt - if there was any - that he is top American.

Johnson moved up to a career-best No. 4 in the world ranking. His last two wins have come against some of the strongest fields, both of them FedEx Cup playoff events. And while he has yet to win a major, he has played in the final group in every major but the Masters over the last two years.

That’s why he spoke with such confidence at the start of the year.

He was asked at the season-opener in Kapalua about the prospects of Woods, and whether it was important to golf for Woods to start winning again. And if that were the case, would it mean fewer chances for others to win? Johnson said he would to see Woods return to form, but that’s where his interest ended.

“Doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “I’m still going to win.”

He did, although it took him longer than he imagined. The key for Johnson was spending extra time on his putting, at home in south Florida and early in the week at Plainfield.

“Not necessarily making putts, but just getting it started on line,” Johnson said. “Because I read the greens very well. So to me, you can’t control if the ball goes in, but you can control where you start it. I’ve just been working on starting it where I’m looking.”

Harmon started working with Johnson a year ago at The Players Championship, and while Johnson loves life away from the golf course, Harmon said he puts in the time and is not afraid to test something new in competition.

That led to another comparison with Woods.

“One thing I like about this kid, which is a lot like Tiger, is that when we work on something, he takes it right out and puts it in play,” Harmon said. “I tell him that it was to work in the heat of battle, not just on the range. Good or bad, he’s going to try it.”

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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry