Last month, Dustin Johnson won his 21st PGA TOUR event at the Travelers Championship. After a rare stumble at last week’s Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide — he shot 80-80 to miss the cut, calling it “one of those weeks” even though, of course, he rarely has those weeks — DJ’s back in action at this week’s 3M Open in Minnesota.
He’ll be one of the favorites at TPC Twin Cities, as he almost always whenever he tees it up. It’s a reputation earned by having won at least one event in each of his first 13 seasons on TOUR, a remarkable stretch of success.
“I’m looking for a good tournament,” Johnson said Tuesday. “I like the golf course. I think it sets up well for me, a lot better than last week’s golf course. So I’m looking forward to it.”
Do we have a full appreciation of what Johnson has accomplished? And where might he ultimately land among the TOUR’s all-time greats? PGATOUR.COM’s experts weighed in on a few DJ-related questions.
- 1. He’s at 21 wins now at age 36. Does DJ get to 30 wins? 40 wins?
- 2. What’s the one thing that impresses you the most about his career?
- 3. What’s the one thing that goes underappreciated about DJ?
- 4. Describe DJ in one word.
- READ ALSO
- Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson booted from Winged Foot
- Patrick Reed looking forward to comfortable pairing with Bryson DeChambeau
1. He’s at 21 wins now at age 36. Does DJ get to 30 wins? 40 wins?
CAMERON MORFIT: I see Dustin racking up somewhere between 25-30 wins, with one more major. He’s had too many injuries for me to predict he’ll just sail along unbothered into his mid-40s.
SEAN MARTIN: I think 30 is doable, but that would be my ceiling for him. That’s averaging one win a year until he turns 45. That’s a tall ask. His Travelers win was promising for two reasons: it was his first win when losing strokes off the tee and he played the par-5s in just 2 under, showing that he doesn’t need his driver to carry him to victory.
BEN EVERILL: I’ll live in the 25-30 bracket. Not saying he can’t have more – I still think he’s capable of a 4-5 win season – but his schedule will likely reduce over time and be against deep fields. I expect at least one more major over the next 4 years also. It’s been a great run so far.
ROB BOLTON: DJ’s first win as a 24-year-old in 2008 looked different than his peers. It just did. His natural athleticism emitted a vibe that we were looking at a future World Golf Hall of Famer. At the time, 30 wins already seemed within reach of his long arms. Today, I’d feel more confident about him touching that milestone if he had, say, 25 right now, but it’s not off the table just yet. Statistically, while he’s yet to experience a winless season, the projection is hurt by the fact that eight of his 12 completed seasons featured only one win. Now that he’s past-prime and entering the reality that his body requires more time to recover from wear and tear, put me down for him falling just short.
JIM McCABE: Forty? No. Thirty is a possibility, though if he continues to average just 20 tournaments a year – virtually all of them against the toughest fields – I wouldn’t be surprised if he stalls out at 27 or 28. Way more intriguing will be the watch to see if he can win another major. The August-of-2020-to-July-of-2021 stretch with two Masters, two U.S. Opens, two PGA Championships, and an Open Championship will be prime opportunity for him. Truthfully, 27 career wins, two of them majors, resonates louder than 31/1.
MIKE McALLISTER: Thirty’s definitely in reach. He’s already won six World Golf Championships events; I can see him winning at least three more. He’s won four FedExCup Playoffs events; I can see him winning two more. He has at least one more major in him. So that’s six right there. Three other TOUR wins puts him at 30.
2. What’s the one thing that impresses you the most about his career?
MORFIT: His consistency has been impressive, but everyone talks about that. What’s interesting is just how much he reinforced that golf is a sport with that super-athletic swing. I’ve seen even Tiger stop to watch him hit driver.
MARTIN: I know the improvement to his wedge game is mentioned ad nauseum but it is impressive to see a player so successfully address a weakness in his game.
EVERILL: I love the answers from both Cameron and Sean here but I’ll add resilience. Some of the meltdowns or losses DJ has experienced would have been career-enders for some players but he’s always been able to find a way back. Reminds me of Greg Norman in that way.
BOLTON: It’s not sexy but his consistently superb form has been outrageous. Since his sophomore season of 2009, he’s averaged three-and-half top 10s to every missed cut. He’s remained largely healthy, too. A fantasy workhorse.
McCABE: For a guy who has an abundance of power, he’s reigned it in admirably and turned himself into a marvelous short-game player. His improvement with the wedges is well-documented and his course-management skills deserve more praise.
McALLISTER: Winning at least one PGA TOUR event in 13 straight seasons is the reason he’s a certain World Golf Hall of Famer. It also may be the shortest acceptance speech in history.
3. What’s the one thing that goes underappreciated about DJ?
MORFIT: He’s actually a pretty darn good putter at times – uncanny, even, in the final round of the Travelers – which will always be obscured by the fireworks off the tee.
MARTIN: How hard it is to win 20+ times in today’s game. Sure, he’s nowhere near Tiger and Phil, but he has the most wins of anyone under the age of 40. He’s one of the best players of his era and a certain World Golf Hall of Famer.
EVERILL: Everything. We all just think what he does is easy because he kind of makes it look like he’s not trying. But if I have to nail it down to one thing, I guess you could frame it as his competitive will. Johnson does care about winning and is locked in trying to do more of it.
BOLTON: As an elite player, he’s constantly scrutinized, so just about every rock has been overturned. That said, it’s probably taken for granted that he’s been able to adapt to all styles of courses and all kinds of grass. Furthermore, lost in his billing and ill-timed misfortunes was a reputation as a bad-weather specialist, so he’s thrived in all kinds of conditions, too. His ball flight withstands the wind, which undoubtedly has contributed to his confidence.
McCABE: He takes ownership of his faults, his mishaps, and his errors better than anyone. The fiasco at the 72nd hole at Whistling Straits in 2010, the 3-wood he hit OB at Royal St. George’s in 2011, the unforgettable mishap at the close of the Chambers Bay in 2015. They were his mistakes and he owned up to it.
McALLISTER: The ability to always look ahead – and not dwell on things you can no longer control – is a common attribute for successful athletes. Tom Brady doesn’t fret after throwing an interception. Michael Jordan never worried about a missed shot. DJ never seems to brood over the negative stuff, which has been a key component to his remarkable consistency. “DJ’s a guy that forgets pretty quickly,” Rickie Fowler once said when DJ was world No. 1. “… That’s one of the reasons why he is the best player in the world right now. He quickly forgets, moves on.”
4. Describe DJ in one word.
MORFIT: Laconic. He seems to just sort of glide through life with that gait and low-key drawl, but he’s most likely gliding toward the Hall of Fame.
MARTIN: That’s a tough one. Let’s go with Winner. He just keeps on winning.
EVERILL: Cool. If you have to ask why, you don’t understand.
BOLTON: Athlete. When a golfer passes the eye test that he could play a major team sport, we’re lucky that he chose golf, or vice versa.
McCABE: Serene. It explains why he’s a joy to watch; he brings a sense of calm to the landscape, even sweeping observes into the tranquility.
McALLISTER: Reliable. You always know what you’re getting with DJ, whether it’s a win each season, qualifying for the FedExCup Playoffs or an innocuous response to a question from the media.
Source: PGA tour