DJ has knee surgery; full recovery expected
September 05, 2019
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- September 05, 2019
- Dustin Johnson recently had arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage damage in his left knee. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Dustin Johnson, the 20-time PGA TOUR winner and current world No. 3, underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage damage on his left knee Thursday morning and is expected to make a full recovery before returning to the PGA TOUR this fall.
The surgery was performed in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, by orthopedic surgeon Dr. George Caldwell, who has worked with both the Miami Dolphins and Miami Marlins, as well as other sports teams.
The procedure, according to Johnson’s representatives, is considered routine and was similar in nature to the surgery performed by Caldwell on Johnson’s right knee in December, 2011. Johnson was able to return to action in mid-January the following year.
The 35-year-old Johnson comes off a 2018-19 season in which he posted one victory -- at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship -- and was runner-up in two majors. He also qualified for the season-ending TOUR Championship for the 11th consecutive year and the win in Mexico continued his streak of having won at least one time in every PGA TOUR season since 2008.
But in his last eight starts after his solo second to Brooks Koepka at the PGA Championship – in which Koepka took over world No. 1 from Johnson -- DJ failed to produce a top-10 finish. That’s his longest non-top-10 stretch in a single season on TOUR since his rookie year of 2008.
In his most recent start, he tied for last in the 30-man field at the TOUR Championship, recording four rounds over par and finishing at 10 over despite entering the tournament at 3 under via the new Starting Strokes format. Not since the 2013 BMW Championship at Conway Farms has Johnson failed to produce at least one round of par-or-better when playing four rounds. And not since the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion has he finished double-digits over par for four rounds.
Given that he was the only player at the PGA to post all four rounds under par, Johnson certainly seemed in good form after leaving Bethpage Black. “I’m pleased with where the game’s at, especially we’ve still got a lot of big tournaments left this year,” he said after the final round.
But on the weekend at East Lake, he said he was mentally worn out. “I got two months (off),” Johnson told Golfweek. “I’m definitely excited about that.”
Johnson struggled on the weekends, especially in the latter half of the season.
The first sign of trouble came at the Valspar Championship in March. Johnson was one shot off the lead held by Paul Casey after 54 holes, but his final-round 3-over 74 left him tied for sixth. A 74 may not sound all that bad, but it was the highest Sunday score by the top 17 players on the final leaderboard – and it ended a streak of 14 consecutive sub-par rounds by DJ.
The 6-over 77 on the Sunday at RBC Heritage was even more alarming, as Johnson blew a one-shot lead after three rounds to finish T-28. No player among the top 44 on the final leaderboard had a worst score.
The weekend struggles were readily apparent during his non-top-10 stretch to finish the season. Of his last six made cuts – thus, 12 weekend rounds – Johnson had just three rounds under par, with two others at even par.
Johnson ranked 10th in first-round scoring average, ninth in the second round, then T-92 for the third round and T-126 for the fourth round. In the previous two seasons, Johnson had a top-10 scoring average for both the third and fourth round. His T-126 ranking in the final round was his worst since 2010, and his T-92 ranking in the third round was the second-worst in that same span.
Johnson also struggled to produce eagles, usually a big component of his power game.
A total of 1,634 eagles were recorded in the 2018-19 season … and DJ had just two of them. Only one of those came on a par-5 hole (the 16th at TPC Sawgrass). His other eagle was recorded in the third round of his win at the WGC-Mexico when his tee shot at the 369-yard par-4 second finished inside 5 feet.
The previous season, Johnson had 15 eagles. In 2017, nine. In 2016, it was 16 (tying him for most by any player). In 2015, it was 15.
He ranked 184th on TOUR in eagles per hole this season. He ranked first in that category in 2010 and 2013, ranked second in 2016 and 2018, and ranked top five on two other occasions. He failed to post an eagle in his last 48 rounds this season.