Dustin Johnson has made a significant statement heading into this week’s US Open after winning the St. Jude Classic by six shots on Sunday and reclaiming his world No1 spot.
Johnson’s 19-under 261 is a perfectly timed confidence booster ahead of his trip to Shinnecock Hills – with the accuracy and execution of his shot selection, wedge play and flawless putting further underlining his position as the best golfer in the world.
Rounds of 67, 63, 65 and 66 were seriously impressive, with his A-game better than anyone else’s on tour in recent years.
And the manner in which he closed out the tournament in Memphis, holing out from 169 yards to finish with an eagle shows how much of a force the 33-year-old can be when he finds his rhythm.
As a result of his sterling displays in recent weeks, the Florida native will roll into the second major of the year as the firm favourite to lift a second US Open title – after clinching his first at Oakmont in 2016.
For Johnson, it just seems to be an easy process to play at such a ferocious and consistent level. His win on Sunday means he is level with Tiger Woods for most wins on Tour since 2008, with nine of those 18 victories coming over the past three years.
Considering the rollercoaster journey he has been on – from injuries to time out of the game to positive rounds – his form since mid-2016 adds to the argument of him being the leading figure in the sport’s recent history.
The American held the world number one spot for 15 months before briefly relinquishing it to Justin Thomas at the Players Championship last month. For all the class Thomas showed, his reign at the top only lasted four weeks, with Johnson cruising through the field at TPC Southwind to reclaim his position as the marquee man.
His win only solidifies his status as the player to beat this weekend.
In his 11 starts in 2018, he has triumphed twice and has five top-10 finishes. To highlight his consistency, the last time he missed the cut in an event was at the 2017 US Open – 21 tournaments ago – where he had a disastrous first two rounds at Erin Hills.
Standing at 6’4 and nearly 90kg, the Jupiter resident could pass for a basketball or rugby player if he wanted to. But having the athletic tools doesn’t always make a successful golfer, with serious technical skills, confidence, patience and ability to be clinical under pressure key to making it in such a competitive sport.
His devotion to fitness and perfecting his game over the years is reflected in his stature around the greens. He swings the golf club with ferocity, his short game is outstanding and he always looks so composed.
His 2018 stats on the PGA Tour adds to this, topping the charts on scoring average and eagles per hole average, as well as sitting second in FedEx Cup points and third in birdie average.
Of course, numbers mean nothing and the real tests awaits this weekend with Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Thomas all likely to have a say in where the trophy goes, but form is crucial leading into a major of this calibre.
Remarkably, no player has ever won the week before the US Open and gone on to secure the second major of the year, but Johnson is aiming to break that streak.
And for anyone who thinks otherwise, his latest triumph proves if he can gain a foothold early in the weekend then he’s unlikely to go anywhere.
With momentum on his side, this is set up to be one of the most compelling weeks of golf in recent history.
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