CARMEL, Ind. – Dustin Johnson strolled the practice range Tuesday at the BMW Championship with a grin from ear-to-ear. It was almost as if the President of the United States was in attendance at Crooked Stick, as anyone within proximity of Johnson reached out for a friendly handshake.
Johnson had officially been selected as a captain’s pick for the U.S. Ryder Cup team a few hours earlier and, if he had stepped on the range to prepare for the season’s third FedEx Cup playoff event, it was clear that it was going to be a difficult task to complete.
“I feel like I earned it,” Johnson said. “I think I can bring a lot to the team. I made my case by playing solid the last two weeks.”
No argument there. Johnson missed nearly three months earlier this season with a back injury and, with it, missed the Masters and The Players, two events where huge Ryder Cup points were up for grabs.
Medinah is a big, brawny ballpark and having a long hitter like Johnson is a bonus but Love still needed to see that Johnson’s form was better than it had been during the meat of the summer. Johnson responded with a T-3 and a T-4 respectively the last two weeks and gave Love enough information to make a decision.
Johnson still will be in unfamiliar territory of sorts. He was 1-3 at the 2010 Ryder Cup and 1-3-1 at the 2011 Presidents Cup, but both were played overseas. This will be the first time he’ll play in a cup format on home soil.
While Johnson was receiving congrats, Hunter Mahan walked onto the range to practice. Some believe Mahan was a Ryder Cup snub considering he held the eighth spot in U.S. points before sliding out at the bitter end. Despite two PGA Tour wins this year, Mahan had not played well in several months.
Johnson could relate with Mahan's disappointment. He believes that the last captain’s pick in the 2009 U.S. Presidents Cup team was between himself and Mahan, with Mahan ultimately getting the nod.
“I’ve been there,” Johnson said. “I know it sucks.”