Dustin Johnson Meltdown: 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach

Please do not let this post fool you, I am a huge fan of Dustin Johnson, and he is my pick for this years US Open at the Olympic Club.  But in order to really understand a player of Dustin’s caliber you have to know his success and his defeats.  Arguable Dustin Johnson could have three Major Championships under his belt, and he would be the next Tiger Woods.  But because of a few mishaps along the way, Dustin Johnson is majorless.  He is however, in my belief, the best player out on tour right now with out a major win.

Dustin Johnson’s final round meltdown at the 2010 U.S. Open may rank with Greg Norman at the 1996 Masters and Jean Van de Velde at the 1999 British Open quoted from the USA Today.  I am not a believer of the Van de Velde comparison, but he is up there with Norman and even Rory McIlroy who both gave away huge leads on a major Sunday.  NBC’s lead analyst Johnny Miller was merciless, but spot-on, as usual. He called it a “colossal collapse” by Johnson, who’d captured the last two PGA Tour events at Pebble Beach.  “I don’t even think his brain is working at the moment. He’s just shell-shocked,” said Miller as the long-hitting Johnson sprayed balls into the Pacific Ocean, lost one shot in the woods and nearly whiffed on another.  Host Dan Hicks said Johnson was enduring a “nightmare” of a final round. “You’re seeing things that don’t happen on any other day. Except the final round.”  Gary Koch took the prize for the call of the day on Johnson’s disastrous second hole. The trouble started when he hit his approach shot on the par 4 hole into a greenside bunker. Forced to hit his third shot left-handed, he nudged the ball forward a few feet.  As Johnson took practice swings for his fourth shot, Koch questioned why he appeared to be trying to pull off a risky flop shot. “He’s rehearsing a very long swing with a wide open club face. Is it necessary to play that kind of shot?”  No it wasn’t. Johnson swung right under the ball. The ball popped up and moved about a foot. Said Miller: “That was an almost whiff — but a touch of hosel got there to help him.”

The Chernobyl like meltdown happened very quickly, and we didn’t see much of Johnson on TV after that.  It was almost like watching a train wrek.  After the initial shock (which you cannot look away from) we all want to stop watching.  No one wants to see the cleaning crews picking up dead bodies, so after the initial crash and burn, we all turn away and think I am glad that wasn’t me.

Dustin Johnson’s major woes did not end that Sunday in California.  He grounded his club in the bunker at the 2010 PGA Championship on the 72nd hole incurring a two shot penalty and missing the playoff between Martin Kaymer and Bubba Watson (I am a firm believer that Dustin would have come out on top if he had made that playoff.  Let us also not forget his “shank” on Sunday at the British Open in 2011.  Dustin Johnson sent the ball sailing out of bounds, leading to a double-bogey that turned the final four holes into nothing more than a victory lap for Clarke. When asked about the shot, Johnson said he would have hit a 3wd if he had another chance instead of the 2 iron.  But the professionals can’t take mulligans.

Johnson must live with the final round of the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where he threw away a three-stroke lead with a brutal 82. He must live with missing out on a playoff at the 2010 PGA Championship, where he didn’t bother to read the rules about all those obscure bunkers at Whistling Straits and took a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club on the 72nd hole.And, he’ll have to live with picking the wrong club and hitting a brutal shot, ruining any hope of snatching away the claret jug on a wet, windy day at Royal St. George’s.

I think the thing to take away from all of Dustin’s Major Mishaps is that he has the game to win any and all of these Majors.  Lets stop and think about it for a minute, the man could have three major championships before the age of 30.  He would be an even higher ranked player than he currently is with no Major Championships.  Not to mention that would he not only have three major victories, he would be one masters tournament away from being one of the rare few golfers to have one each of the four majors.

Dustin Johnson is going to break through very soon on the Major stage, and once he does, I believe that he will continue to do so.  Experts always say the only way to get a major victory is to keep putting yourself in the spot to win, and eventually you will.  Either way DJ is my pick for this years 2012 US Open at Olympic Club.

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