Everything finally falling into place for Johnson

By Will GrayJuly 4, 2016, 12:00 am

AKRON, Ohio – Little things have finally begun to add up in a big way for Dustin Johnson.

He’s been lurking all season long it seems, just off a bit in the distance. While Jason Day and Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth received a bulk of the attention with early wins, Johnson logged his T-8s and T-12s and went about his business, waiting for everything to fall into place.

Consider that wait over.

Johnson rallied from a three-shot deficit in the final round to win the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, toppling the world No. 1 in the process. After waiting 15 months in between wins, he now has left with the trophy each of the last two times he has teed it up.

The source of his recent run, according to Johnson, is rooted in the small stuff.

A draw off the tee stopped cooperating late last season, so Johnson decided to switch things up. He adopted a power cut shot – emphasis on power – and has never hit the ball better, or straighter, off the tee.

The putter, which so often has been his nemesis in recent years, has officially come around. Never was that more evident Sunday than on the 17th green, when he poured in a 16-foot birdie that gave him the lead.

Oh, and those wedges have begun to cooperate, too – an important factor for a guy who hits plenty of them and now leads the PGA Tour in proximity from 50-125 yards.

“He won for a reason,” said Scott Piercy, who finished second to Johnson for the second straight event. “That’s pretty awesome. We all know how good DJ is, and he’s shown it in the last two weeks.”

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

If there was any sort of secrecy surrounding Johnson’s sudden return to form, the secret is out. His U.S. Open victory moved him past Rory McIlroy in the world rankings, and this latest trophy edged him ahead of Spieth to a career-best No. 2 in the world.

Day’s name may still be ahead of his, but there’s no question as to who the hottest player in the world is after the finish in Akron.

“I feel like if I’m hitting it in the fairway, I’m going to be very tough to beat,” Johnson said. “The last couple weeks my putter, I’m making the putts I’m supposed to make. That’s the big difference in me finishing a lot of top-5s that I’ve had this year to winning a few.”

Johnson appeared notably more relaxed throughout this week. Winning a major, and bringing to a screeching halt the incessant line of questions about when you’ll win one, tends to help loosen things up.

But he’s also a different man off the course than he was even a couple years ago thanks to his son, Tatum, who he had with him throughout the weekend with fiancée Paulina Gretzky out of town since Friday.

It’s a transition many elite players have undergone before him, but fatherhood appears to have centered Johnson both inside and outside the ropes.

“I mean, golf isn’t the most important thing anymore,” he said. “I don’t know if that helps or hurts, or what. But he’s most important, and whether I shoot a good score or a bad score, when I see him, it doesn’t matter.”

Thankfully for both father and son, there haven’t been many bad scores to work through in recent weeks.

In the span of a less than a month, Johnson has done more than just shed the label of an underachiever on the major stage. He has stamped his name as one of this generation’s most prolific winners, now with a major and three WGC titles among his 11 Tour victories.

 He has also now demonstrated a consistent ability to come from behind, even against the world’s best. Johnson’s 2015 win at Doral saw him erase a five-shot deficit during the final round, while his two wins this summer have been from four and three shots back, respectively.

With so much focus on who can close the best, and whose record with the 54-hole lead is the most impressive, Johnson’s no-nonsense approach has proved effective at chasing down leaders with increasing regularity.

“One thing I do know is, I can’t control what they’re doing. But hopefully I can control what I’m doing,” he said. “We’re all playing the same golf course. The way I look at it is, I go out there and handle my business, do what I need to do no matter what they’re doing.”

Johnson has been viewed as one of the Tour’s most physically gifted players for years, and he has turned those gifts into a fair number of wins.

But suddenly, with the convergence of a number of little factors both on and off the course, he’s peaking at just the right time. He has reached heights unprecedented in his nine-year career, and it appears to have only fueled his appetite for more.

“The goal is to get to that No. 1 spot. I’ve still got a lot of work to do to get there,” he said. “It’s not just getting there, you want to stay there. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.


We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.

Full-field scores from the Joburg Open

Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm