Washington - Dustin Johnson overcame injuries and personal
issues to become a major golf champion, the long-hitting American star with a
low-key attitude grabbing the world number one ranking in 2017.
After losing the top spot to compatriot Justin Thomas in
May, the 33-year-old son-in-law of ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky bounced back
with a PGA Tour win in Memphis to reclaim the top ranking.
Even after a disappointing third place finish in the US Open
- where he led by four shots through 36 holes only for his putting touch to
desert him at the weekend - Johnson, a man figuring to take a leading Ryder Cup
role, was promptly installed by Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook as the early 12-1
betting favourite to win the British Open.
US Open winner Brooks Koepka, a good friend of Johnson,
sounded like someone who would take that bet.
"He's going to win another (major)," Koepka said.
"In my mind, he's probably one of the most talented guys to ever play the
"And the attitude, the work ethic, everything that he
brings to it - he will, when he's done, go down as one of the best of all
Johnson joined the US PGA Tour in 2008 and has won at least
once in each of his 11 seasons, capturing January's Tournament of Champions in
Hawaii before collecting his 18th US PGA title at Memphis.
Johnson matched Tiger Woods for the most tour wins since
"It's very difficult to win out here. The talent level
of the guys on tour is very high and it's hard to get it done," Johnson
"So to win 11 consecutive years is something I'm really
proud of and I want to continue that streak as long as I can."
The only longer US PGA season win streaks belong to 18-time
major winner Jack Nicklaus at 17 and 14-time major champion Woods at 14.
Johnson nearly captured his first major title at the 2010
PGA Championship, with a one-shot lead entering the final hole. He appeared to
have made bogey after landing in a sandy nature area but was issued a
two-stroke penalty after it was deemed he had grounded his club in a bunker,
dropping to fifth place.
In 2011, Johnson shared second behind winner Darren Clarke
at the British Open. He suffered a back injury in 2012 and in 2014 announced a
break from the tour to seek professional help for "personal challenges."
Golf magazine reported Johnson was banned by the tour for
six months after testing positive for cocaine following two prior positives for
recreational drugs. PGA Tour officials indicated Johnson's leave was voluntary
and he was not under suspension.
Johnson returned in February 2015 and won his first title
the following month at Doral. He shared the 54-hole US Open lead but missed a
birdie putt on the final hole that gave Jordan Spieth the victory.
Johnson's major breakthrough came at the 2016 US Open, when
he won by three strokes over Ireland's Shane Lowry, American Scott Piercy and
Jim Furyk, who will captain the 2018 US Ryder Cup team upon which Johnson
figures to be a key player.
The 2016 campaign finished with Johnson as the US PGA's top
money winner and Vardon Trophy winner for the lowest average score. He also won
the PGA Tour Player of the Year award.
Another breakthrough awaited Johnson in 2017 when he won at
Riviera in February to claim the world number spot for the first time.
He stayed there for 64 weeks before Justin Thomas briefly
displaced him, and admits that holding the top spot is a motivator for him.
"It's definitely a spot where I want to be," he
said. "It's motivation to keep me working hard and keep doing the things