Dustin Johnson (Still) Lets His Clubs Do His Talking for Him
TROON, Scotland -- Dustin Johnson does not care about The Narrative.
His QAM ratio (Questions Answered Per Minute) at his Wednesday press conference at the Open Championship was astounding. In front of a standing-room only group of reporters, Johnson torched his way through 40 queries.
For context, that's twice the number of questions Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose answered in their respective interview sessions. And all of it occurred after Johnson ignored the first question, head down, staring at his cell phone.
DJ doesn't seem to give media questions much thought because, well, he doesn’t need to. If the fallout from Rory McIlroy's controversial press conference Tuesday taught us anything, it's that (a) players can get in trouble for speaking their mind, and (b) players owe us nothing.
And so, Johnson shares next to nothing. As a newly minted major champion and the undisputed hottest golfer on the planet, Johnson is the same reticent guy he was before he hoisted the U.S. Open trophy. You can expect more of the same from him this week at the British Open.
That means blasting more drives, draining more birdies and galloping through more press conferences. Johnson kept it simple at the U.S. Open, despite a is-this-really-happening Rules controversy swirling aorund him. He confidently strutted through the back nine to a three-stroke victory.
DJ rode his greatest asset -- that gouging TaylorMade driver -- all over Oakmont, hitting the ball farther than the entire field and finding 64% of his fairways (18th best). It's a lethal combination. The strokes gained metric proves time and again that being closer to the hole off the tee, despite numerous conditional factors, is a supreme scoring advantage.
Johnson's booming long game adds exponential truth to that painfully obvious claim. At the WGC-Bridgestone two weeks after Oakmont, he did the same thing, finishing second (by a sliver) in driving distance and hitting 57% of his fairways (4th best).
On another continent, along the breezy and often precipitous Firth of Clyde, is that advantage still a big edge? Mechanical, mash-a-course golf works in the United States. In Scotland, not so much. R&A chief Martin Slumbers said as much Wednesday morning.
"The beauty of a links golf course is the weather makes a massive difference," Slumbers said. "The way the ball moves on the fairways, depending on how firm it is, the ability to control that. The ability to make sure where you want to put the ball versus where the ball has to finish on the green. I think that protection, and then you add in the weather is what makes links golf so difficult."
Rain and modest wind will arrive this weekend after a sunny Thursday, when Johnson will go off with Martin Kaymer and Russell Knox at 2:04 p.m. local time (9:04 a.m. EST). That leaves the duty of protecting the course largely to the fescue and bunkers. DJ is only worried about the latter. The rough, he figures, is manageable throughout.
A dip in accuracy is perhaps the only thing that could derail the DJ locomotive that just keeps chugging along -- which brings us to another narrative. What specifically does it take for the world’s best players to create such a special, dominating run?
Spieth said it's "mostly mental." McIlroy cited momentum and confidence, and Rose went so far as to describe energy levels, mental stamina and emotional aspects that cycle throughout a season.
Johnson didn’t bite.
"I feel like the run started at the beginning of the year. It’s just continuing on," he said, citing no specific theory. "Just not changing anything that I’m doing."
Johnson is terse, but he's not wrong. The No. 2 player in the world hasn’t missed a cut all season, with every finish but one in the top 30. He leads the Tour in strokes gained, scoring average and money earned.
"I've been doing the same thing all year," Johnson said. "I'm going to continue to do the same thing."