DUBLIN, Ohio – Fresh off his second PGA Tour victory, Kevin Kisner on Tuesday was asked:
What the closest you’ve ever been to being intimidated on a golf course?
And this question, thankfully and randomly, led Kisner to recount the time he, at 14 years old, took down Dustin Johnson in a junior tournament.
Answering the initial question, Kisner responded: “Never. Nothing on the golf course ever. … What have you got to be intimidated about? You have people fighting wars all over the world for us and we’re playing golf. Think I’m scared of Dustin Johnson because he hits it 350?”
“No. You can ask him,” Kisner shot back. “We’ve been playing golf since we were 7.”
Kisner proceeded to detail a duel between him and Johnson at “some junior tournament in South Carolina” when they “were probably about 14.”
DJ took a one- or maybe two-shot lead into the last hole, prompting Kisner to go for the par-5 green in two. He blocked his approach into the woods, while Johnson laid up and wedged onto the green, leaving him 12 feet for birdie. And then the unthinkable happened.
“I skulled it out of the trees, [the ball] hits the mound, goes up over the hill, hit the flag doing 100, and it goes in. He proceeds to three-putt,” Kisner detailed.
“I win and his grandad in the background over the green goes, ‘Well, God …’ And DJ has never let me live it down.”
Years later, Kisner and Johnson would play together in the last group at the 2012 FedEx St. Jude Classic, which Johnson went on to win, telling Kisner, “I got you back.”
“You have to ask him about it when he comes in,” Kisner added.
On Wednesday, someone did.
“It’s exactly how he told it,” Johnson confirmed. “He couldn’t even see the flag because there was a big mound up front. He caught it thin and it was going about 8,000 miles per hour, hit the pin and went in. “
As for what his grandfather said?
“I can’t do it as good as Kevin did,” Johnson laughed, “but it sounded just like that.”