GOLF Magazine Interview: Dustin Johnson

GOLF Magazine Interview: Dustin Johnson

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CLASS ACT: "I try to play the game like a gentleman and give everyone respect."
Angus Murray

What was tougher to get
over, the U.S. Open final
round or the bunker penalty
at the PGA Championship?

Neither. I mean, the PGA was
just an unfortunate situation.
But it wasn’t hard to get over,
because there are a lot of good
things that I can take out of that
week. I played really well coming
down the stretch, making
birdies when I needed to. So
there’s nothing bad that I can
take from that week.

Is there now any doubt in
your mind that you’re going
to win a major one day?

Yeah, I mean, if I keep playing
like I’m playing, there’s no doubt
that I think that I’m going to be
contending in a lot of majors.
I think and I believe in myself
that I can get it done.

Before you joined the Tour, what was
the worst thing that ever happened
to you in a golf tournament?

The worst thing that sticks out most in my
mind was a South Carolina junior tournament.
I think I had a two-shot lead. I was
pretty young — 13 or 14 — and I was playing
against Kevin Kisner. I was in the middle of
fairway and it was a par 5, the last hole. My
third shot. He had blown it right up underneath
a tree and he skulled it. And there’s a
big mound in front. It went over the mound.
You could hear it hit the flag and went in
the hole. It was a crazy situation. Probably
never happen again in a million years. And
I hit a decent shot. I just missed it, kind of
spun, went off the green and I chipped it
up and missed the putt. He beat me by one.

As a 17-year-old, you were forced to buy
bullets that were used in a gang murder.
How did you get mixed up in that?

I got pulled into a bad situation. I was a
young kid. I had no idea what was going
on. Stuff like that happened and made me
realize I’ve got to be real careful about the
decisions I make. Like I can’t just hang
around with hooligans.

How close were you to going down the
wrong path?

I don’t think I ever was. I never, ever thought
I was a bad guy. I just got into a situation
where I felt very intimidated, and made a
couple of bad decisions. I’m a pretty smart
guy. I know the difference between right
and wrong. I wish it had never come to
something like that, but I just got pulled in.

Did you feel your life was out
of control?

No. Never. I always knew I wanted to play
golf and go to college. I try hard to be
a positive role model, especially on the
golf course. I try to carry myself well,
and don’t do anything outrageous. I try to
play the game like a gentleman and give
everyone respect. That’s how the game
should be played.

Who were your heroes?

I was a big fan of John Daly. And Freddie,
Tiger and Phil. Freddie’s swing is so smooth
and beautiful. As a kid I remember John
Daly bombing it around St. Andrews in 1995
to win the British Open, and people say we
are similar in a lot of ways.

How do you get over Sunday at the
U.S. Open? [Johnson was leading the
tournament by three strokes after 54
holes and shot a final-round 82.]

I had a few drinks on the airplane that night.
I was over it the next day. Then my birthday
was Tuesday so we had a few pints Monday
night and Tuesday night. I’m a pretty easygoing
guy. I don’t dwell on stuff.

You played three great rounds. What
went so wrong on Sunday?

Maybe I was a little jacked up, because
everything was going maybe a couple of
yards too far, so I got penned in some tough
spots to make par. At Pebble Beach, even on
your good shots, you’ve got to hit it to the
correct side of the holes to save pars. And
I just didn’t do it. The biggest thing was I
putted badly. It was just one of those days.
Golf is a weird sport. Some days you got it.
Some days you don’t.

Tough times?

It’s only golf. There are a lot worse things
that can happen in your life.