Dustin Johnson looks to right the ship entering Travelers Championship
June 23, 2021
By Jim McCabe , PGATOUR.COM
- June 23, 2021
- Dustin Johnson looks to take the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking with a win at the Travelers Championship. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
CROMWELL, Conn. – Were you to combine them, the developments in Dustin Johnson’s world the last few days would seemingly ignite a need for reaction.
But then you’d be reminded to consider the subject we’re talking about. Johnson appears incapable of angst or anxiety, the consummate picture of cool and collected.
So big deal that the reigning FedExCup champion turned 37 on Tuesday or fell from No. 1 in the world on Sunday. Even this business transaction, becoming part-owner of a National Lacrosse League expansion franchise, was met with a casual shrug.
“I don’t know a whole lot about (the game),” he said.
Understood. You’re a Low Country kid, so what’s this partnership with Wayne Gretzky, Steve Nash, and Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai in a new Las Vegas team all about?
“It’ll be fun and kind of a cool thing to be part of.”
He was similarly nonchalant about tacking on another year. He celebrated by spending Tuesday morning with his boys in Florida, traveling to the Travelers Championship, going to the gym, then having dinner with his finance, Paulina Gretzky, his brother, Austin, and a few other friends.
As for falling out of the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking, now No. 2 behind U.S. Open winner Jon Rahm, Johnson said it’s easily understood. “My play has not been good enough to hold (that spot),” he said.
But you’d be foolhardy to study Johnson’s stoic demeanor and judge him as aloof. Quite the contrary, he has a firm grip on the landscape, totally studies his game, and continually makes enhancements without ever touching the panic button.
This thing about falling from No. 1? Johnson’s history demonstrates how remarkably resilient he is. In the five previous times he lost his No. 1 rank, it didn’t take him much time to return to the top spot. Once it took just one week, another time it took him two weeks, then there were gaps of just four weeks and 19 weeks.
So, Johnson is totally at peace with Rahm leap-frogging him. “A good week this week, I think I could get right back there.”
He is correct, because if he were to win, Johnson would earn his seventh stint at No. 1. And winning at TPC River Highlands is something fresh on his mind. Last year during the pandemic, there might not have been fans at the Travelers, but Johnson put on a sizzling show in just his fourth visit.
Tied for 79th after opening with a 1-under 69, Johnson followed with 64, but was still six behind the leader, Phil Mickelson. “But if you can get it going here, you can shoot low scores,” said Johnson, whose weekend of 61-67 provided a one-stroke triumph over Kevin Streelman.
It was career win No. 21, which was followed by two more, then he reached No. 24 when Johnson climbed the top of the mountain at the 2020 Masters in November. Since then, there have been just two pedestrian top 10s in 11 tournaments and an acknowledgement that “since January, I haven't played as well as I would have liked.”
But, remember, he is the ultimate Alfred E. Neuman of PGA TOUR members – “What, me worry?” So, if Johnson suggests his game “is starting to come around at the right time,” history shows you might want to believe him.