DUBLIN, Ohio – Dustin Johnson was on the putting green at Muirfield Village with his light blue shirt untucked. It was a sure sign that he had not been at a PGA Tour event in nearly three months, only it had nothing to do with a dress code.
''I forgot to pack my belts,'' he said.
Johnson last played at Doral the second week of March. Coming off minor knee surgery in the offseason, he tweaked his back early in the year and then injured it the weekend before the Masters while pushing a jet ski out of the water.
''And then when I went to try to play golf the next day, that was when I knew it was injured badly, and I was not going to be able to play,'' Johnson said.
He sat out for two months, wanting to make sure it was completely healthy.
Now, he has some catching up to do. Johnson was No. 4 in the Ryder Cup standings when the season began, and he helped himself with a few tournaments in contention at Pebble Beach and Riviera. Without having played since March, however, he is at No. 24. The top eight automatically qualify.
''Just have to play good golf,'' he said. ''Probably wouldn't hurt if I won a tournament between now and then. That would definitely help. I'm just going to have to get in contention a few times and have some high finishes and play good in the U.S. Open and PGA.''
Johnson's record in team play is 2-6-1 in the last Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, though he badly wants to be part of the Ryder Cup team at Medinah.
''I want to be on the team, and I'm going to do whatever I can to make it,'' he said. ''Obviously, having a couple months off hurts a little bit, but I've still got plenty of time to make the team.''
RYDER CUP SLIP: U.S. captain Davis Love III has not announced his assistants for the Ryder Cup in September. Fred Couples took care of that for him on Tuesday.
Couples was introduced as Presidents Cup captain for the third time, and he was asked if that hurt his chances of ever being a Ryder Cup captain.
''No, I really never looked at it that way,'' he said. ''I'm going to help Davis, I think.''
Then he paused and smiled.
''I don't know if that's out yet, but I believe he's pretty much put that out there.''
As the room erupted in laughter, Couples added, ''Davis, wherever you are. ...''
AMAZING GRACE: Branden Grace of South Africa is still trying to get acclimated to the big stages in golf, which sounds odd considering he has won more tournaments than any other player on the European and PGA Tour this year.
Grace won twice in South Africa, including a playoff win over Ernie Els, and then won the China Open and is No. 4 on the European Tour money list.
Even so, last week was a big one for him. He finished fifth in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, his second time this year competing against a field that featured the top three players in the world ranking. The other event was Doral, a World Golf Championship where he finished in the middle of the pack.
''My first time at Wentworth, actually, and I think not just for myself, but everybody wanted to see how I can perform on that big of a stage with Rory and Luke and Westwood and those guys in the field,'' Grace said. ''I really played well. I didn't play as well as I wanted to play. I played decent, got it around. But it was a good experience, and I'm just looking forward to this week.''
The week won't be as long as Grace expected.
He had signed up for the U.S. Open qualifier on Monday. But with his fifth-place finish at Wentworth, Grace moved up to No. 55 in the world.
The top 60 in the world on June 10 are exempt from qualifying. Based on the way he is playing, Grace is comfortable that he will be among the top 60 in two weeks, so he will skip the qualifier.
''The decision is made,'' he said. ''Should be good enough to get into the Open, and take it from there.''
Instead of 36 holes in Ohio, he will fly to south Florida and spend a week with good friends Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel to prepare for the U.S Open.
QUALIFYING COVERAGE: The Golf Channel will never be busier than on the Monday after the Memorial.
It is sending reporters and producers to 14 U.S. Open qualifying sites around the country, from Texas to Colorado, California to Ohio, Washington to Tennessee. Golf Channel is calling it ''Golf's Longest Day,'' and it will be covering stories from 7 a.m. to midnight with three dedicated specials and news updates throughout the day.
RYO CADDIE: Another tournament, another caddie for Ryo Ishikawa.
The Japanese star has switched to local caddies for his next five tournaments on Tour, which began last week at Colonial. This week at the Memorial, Ishikawa selected Adam Claytor, who came highly recommended by Muirfield Village members. Claytor played college golf at Ohio Wesleyan and is in his second year working at Muirfield Village, while playing mini tours when he can.
Hiroyuki Kato, who has caddied for Ishikawa throughout most of his young career, did not accompany him on the trip.
FOLLOWING FREDDIE: It would be unfair to say that Fred Couples speaks out of both sides of his mouth. It's just that when the words come out, they go in all sorts of directions. The latest example comes from his thoughts on the golf course before the Senior PGA Championship last week.
Try to follow along.
''It's maybe a little forgiving, but if you're off, you're going to struggle to make pars,'' he said. ''We're talking about the par 5s now. So to be honest with you, I don't remember where the par 5s are. I think maybe the fifth hole is a par 5. Well, I don't really know. It's hard. It depends what way the wind blows.''
DIVOTS: Luke Donald, the first player to win the money title on the PGA and European Tour in the same season, has been awarded an honorary life membership on the European Tour. Of the eight players awarded life memberships in the last three years, Donald is the only one who didn't win a major. ... Paul Spengler, executive vice president of Pebble Beach, has been given the Herbert Hoover Humanitarian Award by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. ... Zach Johnson has won eight times on Tour but in only three states - four in Texas, three in Georgia, one in Hawaii. ... Only 15 players who are exempt and plan to play in the U.S. Open were at The Olympic Club the last time it was there in 1998. That includes Olin Browne, eligible this time as the U.S. Senior Open champion.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Of the 17 Americans who have won on Tour this year, 11 started the season in the top 50 in the world ranking.
FINAL WORD: ''He is a bit slower than the three of us.'' – Rickie Fowler, on Ben Crane being the only player from the ''Golf Boys'' video who hasn't won this year.