Johnson a slam-dunk talent

By Rich LernerFebruary 14, 2010, 2:37 am
2007 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmWould you pass on a chance to tee it up at Pebble Beach to play in a pick-up basketball game? Anthony Kim did.   

AK took off the belt buckle Friday and laced up the Nike high tops at the NBA’s Celebrity Game in Dallas as part of All-Star weekend. As a kid, he hooped on the playgrounds of Los Angeles and still loves the Lakers to this day.

Kim showed quickness and instincts on the defensive end, executed a solid pick-and-roll, but came up short on a three-pointer and failed to finish on a break. The scouting report calls him a poor man’s Chucky Atkins.  

I’d have loved to see Dustin Johnson in that game, but for now he’s busy running past Kim, Hunter Mahan and J.B. Holmes in the hierarchy of best Americans under the age of 30.
Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson is more than just a power player. (Getty Images)
Johnson’s gait screams athlete; actually, he can dunk a basketball barefoot. His bloodlines jump out, too. Dustin’s grandfather, Art Whisnant, made the University of South Carolina Hall of Fame, a 6’4” small center back when 6’4” guys could play center.

“He was mean,” said Dustin. “And he could jump out of the gym.”

High-flyers open eyes and drop jaws in basketball. Long hitters do the same in golf. That’s why we watch slam dunk and long drive contests. In that respect Johnson is Dominique Wilkins. He absolutely destroys the ball.

But if that’s all they counted, Hank Kuehne and Scott Hend would still be on the PGA Tour.  

“The guy can hit some shots,” said Fred Couples last week at Riviera after naming Johnson as the one young player that’s most impressed him.

Couples hadn’t yet seen quite enough of Johnson to make him a captain’s choice for the Presidents Cup last year, but that likely won’t be an issue for Corey Pavin at the Ryder Cup this October.

Jack Nicklaus, a good high school basketball player in his own right, also understands the kind of freakish talent Johnson possesses.  

YouTube has a clip of Johnson at the Memorial Clinic hosted by Nicklaus. In it, Johnson hammers a drive and Jack, tongue in cheek says, “That one carried only 314 yards.”

Johnson, with his huge hands and size 13 feet on a 6’4” frame, looks at Jack and says in his deadpan southern drawl, “I can hit it pretty far sometimes.”

Jack cracked up.

A year ago it might have been laughable to put Johnson among the Masters favorites.

Not now. Johnson, rim-rattling, big-time dunker with a feathery touch, has our undivided attention.
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Watch: Reed races in 40-footer to put away Spieth

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 10:19 pm

Three up with three holes to play at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Patrick Reed missed an opportunity to close out his match with Jordan Spieth when Spieth won the 16th hole with a birdie.

But Reed wouldn't let the match move to 18. Putting for birdie from the apron, 40 feet from the hole, at the par-3 17th, Reed raced in this putt to end the match.

With the win, Reed moved to 3-0-0 for the week and advanced to the weekend at Austin Country Club.

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Garcia's win-win situation: Move on or baby time

By Rex HoggardMarch 23, 2018, 9:45 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Given his status as one of Europe’s preeminent Ryder Cup players, Sergio Garcia’s record at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is nothing short of inexplicable.

In 15 starts at the event, the Spaniard has played the weekend just once – in 2010 when he lost in the semifinals to Ian Poulter – and since the event pivoted to round-robin play he’s never made it out of the group stages.

His fortunes have changed dramatically this year, with Garcia going undefeated in pool play and cruising to the Sweet 16 following a 3-and-1 victory over Xander Schauffele on Friday.

“I would love to have done a little better than I have,” said Garcia, who will play Kyle Stanley in the Round of 16 early Saturday. “I have had some good weeks here. But not probably as good as I should have. So hopefully this week it will be better.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

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Garcia made no secret of the source of his turnaround following the birth of his first child last Wednesday, a girl named Azalea. Even on Friday when he found himself 2 down through 11 holes and in danger of not advancing he kept an upbeat attitude.

“The way I looked at it, when I was 2 down, we're going to try to turn it around, but if we don't, it means that I get to spend more time with [his wife] Angela and Azalea for the weekend,” Garcia said. “I tried to look at it in a good way.”

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DeLaet: WGC's robin-robin format 'sucks'

By Grill Room TeamMarch 23, 2018, 9:20 pm

Graham DeLaet isn't teeing it up at Austin Country Club this week because he didn't qualify for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, but that doesn't mean he lacks an opinion on the event's format.

DeLaet hopped on social media Friday during Day 3 of the WGC-Match Play to torch the round-robin format that's been in place for three years, saying he much preferred the single elimination that was in place when he played in 2014.

"Played Match Play in Tucson in 2014. Early group on Wednesday, lost. Threw clubs in my car and was on my couch in Scottsdale by 2:00 pm. Collect 30K and spend the weekend at home, he tweeted. "That’s a good format. This one sucks."

DeLeat's comments may be the strongest to date, but he's not alone in his opposition to pool play. Several players lamented Friday's "meaningless" matches earlier this week, and Henrik Stenson cited the lack of a do-or-die atmosphere as his reason for skipping the event.

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Watch: Kuchar makes ace at WGC-Dell Match Play

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 23, 2018, 9:09 pm

In his bid to advance to the weekend at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Matt Kuchar aced the par-3 seventh hole Friday at Austin Country Club.

With an 8-iron from 181 yards, Kuchar landed his ball short of the flag and watched it roll and roll ... and drop.

The hole-in-one moved Kuchar 3 Up in match against Ross Fisher. 

The last hole-in-one at the Match Play came in Sunday's consolation match last year, when Hideto Tanihara aced the same hole before later losing to Bill Haas.