Truth and Rumors: Norman calls Johnson, Rose and Mahan recover

Wednesday June 30th, 2010

Dustin Johnson gets a little help from his friendsNo one's going to deny that Dustin Johnson had the kind of Sunday at Pebble Beach that he's not likely to forget for a while, but the young power hitter doesn't seem to be carrying any bad feelings with him in the run-up to the AT&T National. He seems to be in good spirits, largely because of a solid foundation of friends who called to cheer him up after the U.S. Open. It wasn't just his old pals that gave him a call though...

Q. Did you learn anything from that Sunday, that if you find yourself in that position in another major soon that you would put to use?DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, a lot of people that I've talked to -- I got a call from Greg Norman, I got a call from some of my friends, and all of them told me that they learned more from cases they'd lose or from times that they'd lose than they did from when they'd win. Golf is a learning process nonstop.
You know, there's a lot of things I think I can take from that Sunday.

Q. You mentioned Greg Norman. How many people did contact you?DUSTIN JOHNSON: I got a lot of phone calls from close friends and fellow golf people. You know, it was nice for them to call and give me their input and hear some of their advice.

Q. Did you have any relationship with Greg at all when he called, Norman?DUSTIN JOHNSON: You know, I've only spent a little bit of time with him but I got to spend some time with him down at the Shark Shootout last year, and obviously he's been in my situation a few times. So it was nice just to hear -- to get a call from him.

It's obvious that Johnson didn't want to go into the specifics of what Norman told him (Johnson might even have immediately regretted letting the press in on the convo at all), but I think even this little bit of info reflects really well on the Shark. Norman has been famously (and reasonably) reluctant to talk about his toughest losses (read: worst chokes), which makes it impressive that he'd go out of his way to give Johnson his perspective. Norman had an incredible career despite some historic disappointments, something that could be an inspiration to the seriously talented Johnson. On the other hand, when Greg Norman calls to console you after a tournament, you know you really blew it.
Norman wasn't the only one with advice, however. After Johnson's presser, it was time for Tiger, and when he wasn't fielding questions about his recent lovers quarrels (and I'm not even talking about his marriage), Woods had a little bit of advice for Dustin J.
Q. Is there anything you can or will say to Dustin after what happened to him Sunday at Pebble? TIGER WOODS: Well, it happens. And just because it happened doesn't
mean that you can't ever win again. I mean, it happened to Mike Weir. I
was playing not too far away from him at Medinah, and he shot 80 in the
final round and came back and won the Masters. If he has the talent and
the game to give himself that type of lead at a U.S. Open, there's no
reason why he can't do that again and finish it off. It's just a matter
of picking yourself up and doing it all over again.
Not exactly Earth-shattering words of wisdom, but true none-the-less. The reason I love this quote is because it's got to be very close in meaning to what Norman told Johnson, but so different in content. Tiger is the anti-choker--the only time he's lost the lead late in a major, Y.E. Yang actually took it from him--and is so great that he has to think of another golfer's problems (poor Mike Weir) to try and make Johnson feel better.  Plucky RoseWhile we're on the topic of Tour players moving past disappointing finishes, Justin Rose had a mini-meltdown of his own at the Traveler's Championship, shooting a 75 on Sunday to lose a three-stroke lead and finish T9th. The win would have been the second in a month for Rose, who finally got his first PGA Tour victory at the Memorial. But according to Joe Juliano of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rose isn't letting his final-day disappointment keep him down for long.
The shocking fall from an almost-certain victory to a tie for ninth could have been shattering for Rose, but he took it as a valuable lesson that he will put to use starting Thursday when he tees it up in the AT&T National at Aronimink Golf Club.

"It depends how you choose to view these things," Rose said Tuesday after joining West Chester's Sean O'Hair at nearby Waynesborough Country Club for a clinic attended by about 300 youths in the First Tee programs throughout the area.

"I feel like I'm a better player for it. I actually learned an awful lot on Sunday about what happened and what went wrong. And I would have continued to have made those mistakes...I wouldn't have realized some of the things I learned.

The Sunday round hurt, but judging from what Rose said Tuesday, it won't have a lasting effect.

Although he failed to qualify for the U.S. Open, Rose discovered no change in his game whatsoever through three rounds of the Travelers. He opened 64-62 and followed with a 68 that he thought could have been better had a few putts dropped.

"Getting that win under my belt [in the Memorial], it softens the blow of last Sunday, for sure," he said. "Yeah, I wanted to win. It would have been great to win two in a row. But it's not about, for me really, how many I win right now. It's how good I can get as a player."

Hopefully Rose's game recovers as quickly as his mind did. It's a shame that he missed the U.S. Open (one of the few times a player wins the tournament before a major and still can manage not to qualify for the major itself), but a win or even a good showing in Philly should vault him high enough in the FedEx Cup standings that he'll have a shot at some big money come the end of the year--and a shot at Congressional in 2011. Mahan's DetourLast season, Hunter Mahan looked like the next star on the PGA Tour and his great play carried over into 2010 with an early win in the WM Phoenix Open. After that, it was a series of ups and downs until the bottom fell out at the Byron Nelson. After a T50 there, Mahan has missed four consecutive cuts, a result of not terrible (but terribly mediocre) golf. While most players might try to plow through and assume their game would pick them up, Robert Mays of the Boston Globe reports that Mahan took a more proactive approach this weekend.
After his fourth straight missed cut last weekend at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Mahan decided he needed some time with his swing coach in Orlando, Fla., before making the trip to Rhode Island for the CVS Caremark Charity Classic at the Rhode Island Country Club.

Mahan’s 3-over 143 for 36 holes at the Travelers came a week after rounds of 78 and 74 at Pebble Beach in the US Open.
At this time last year, Mahan had made the cut in each of the 16 tournaments he played. In the same number of tournaments this season, Mahan’s weekend has ended early six times.

A volunteer took Mahan to the airport the day after his final round Friday, and after arriving in Florida at about 5:30 p.m., Mahan and Foley had about 24 hours to work on Mahan’s swing.

Both men suspected they knew what might be wrong with Mahan’s mechanics, but the work necessary to pinpoint it would have been impossible to do during a normal week on Tour.

“I needed to look at it off the golf course, not during a tournament, to break it down, to look at all the steps,’’ Mahan said.
“He kind of knew what it was. We just couldn’t work on it during a normal week."

The two taped Mahan’s swing and then studied it following the session. The results were about what they expected, just small parts of the swing that needed a closer look.

When Mahan won the Phoenix Open, I thought that it was the start of his breakout year. With his swing and mental makeup, Hunter should be on a gravy train with biscuit wheels, so I assumed that he was nursing some unnamed injury (because he has simply not looked right the last couple of months), but that's clearly not the case. The reason I like this story so much is that, as much as we hear Tour players complaining about the rigorous schedule and travel they have to do, Mahan is not only doing everything he can to fix his game, he's doing it without canceling his commitments to Tour and charity events. That's the sign of a class act. Stray shots

Some golfers had a bit of a scare in Montana over the weekend--a mountain lion decided to play through.

An old picture of a golfer taking his stance on a sacred site has outraged a group of Aborigines.

The 2010 Professional Disc Golf Association Amateur and Junior World Championships are on--don't let that weasel snag the bee!

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