Team Golf XYZ
Dustin Johnson does feel the pressure, he admits. He also gushed at being mentioned in the same breath, as Tiger, Jack (Nicklaus) and Arnie (Arnold Palmer) after winning for a 13 successive season as he added the 2020 Travelers Championship to his list of successes.
Johnson looks cool, calm and totally in control. But he himself admits that it is not always so. He does feel the pressure, but does a good job of now showing it. His confident gait, the swagger and some incredible golf in clutch situations hide all that very well.
On Saturday, when he shot 61 and was asked if he ever felt stress, he said, “A lot more than you think I do. I try not to show it. Today (Round 3) I hit a lot of good iron shots, so there wasn’t really any much of a struggle.” Sure, when you have a bogey free round with nine birdies, where is the pressure.
He last won 15 months ago, so that was pressure of another kind. He was thrilled to get this one, and said, “Yeah, it’s very exciting to get my 21st win and then get my first win of the season. It was big because I hadn’t played very well. But I put in a lot of good work the last couple weeks after Colonial, and so it’s nice to see the game just start coming around.”
He went on, “Yeah, it was definitely strange playing with no fans, but you still can feel the pressure, you still can feel how important a golf tournament it is, and you’re coming down the stretch, to me it felt the same, whether it was a million fans or zero.”
“You know, but it was strange not seeing a whole bunch of people around the 18th green.”
How proud is he of the record of 21 wins, a Major and a streak of 13 consecutive seasons with at least one win? He did not hold back, “I mean, I’m proud of all of them, obviously. But I mean, winning the U.S. Open at Oakmont is my biggest win for sure. But winning 13 years straight on the TOUR is a pretty big accomplishment.”
He added, “Well, anytime you’re mentioned with those guys, with Tiger, Jack, I think Arnie, you’ve got to feel good about that because they’re the best that’s ever played this game.”
The question of pressure cropped up again on Sunday, even after hoisting the trophy. He said, “Yeah, I wasn’t driving it good, wasn’t driving it really good all day, but I was hitting my irons well. I felt like all week I’ve hit my irons really good. Yesterday I drove it in the fairway a lot, and so obviously I had a lot of looks at birdies.”
“Today I didn’t hit many fairways, and that was the big difference. But yeah, 13 — I mean, it’s a tough tee shot. I pulled it just a hair. It wasn’t that bad of a tee shot. Obviously it just carried the bunker, rolled across the cart path there and was just barely out-of-bounds.
“Yeah, obviously hitting the provisional, the second tee ball for that hole, I knew I had to hit a good one, and I did. Made a nice bogey there and then came right back and made birdie on 14.”
So, was there some pressure even on DJ? “Yeah, I mean, sitting there, obviously made a nice par save on 15, and so I felt good. I had the confidence. I was ready to finish out the golf tournament, and then obviously they blow the horn, so you get to go sit in the clubhouse for an hour.”
“You know, just coming out, we had a few minutes to warm up, so it wasn’t like I was stiff or anything, but just caught my shot a little thin on 16. I knew I was not trying to hit it anywhere near that right bunker and I did. Yeah, it was just a poor shot but managed to hold it together and hit some really nice shots on 17 and 18.”
He certainly did not enjoy the stoppage. “Yeah, I was definitely ready to — obviously you’re in the moment, you’re playing, you’ve already played 15 holes, and then you’ve got to stop and wait to go finish. 16 was a tough pin over there, but obviously I wasn’t trying to hit anywhere near it. And then 17, the tee ball is difficult. You know, I knew what I needed to do, but sitting there, you’re cold, you’re coming out, you start on a par-3, it was difficult. But I managed to get it done.”
What matters in the end is that he got the job done.