By Paul Myers
Before Sunday’s final round, Dustin Johnson’s name always seemed to come with an asterisk when discussed in golf circles. The conversation would be something along the lines of ‘sure, he’s a great player, but he can’t finish the deal in the big events’. And, to be fair, this was a legitimate criticism. The long-hitting Johnson had come up short in a number of majors previously, with his biggest opportunity wasted at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach when he posted a final round 82 after holding the 54-hole lead.
All of those past near-misses are now just a footnote, however, as Johnson has secured that long-awaited first major title. The 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club is the one that finally went his way, although it was not without drama. Despite a highly questionable penalty stroke that was applied by the USGA, Johnson was able to finish strong – highlighted by a stunning six-iron approach on the final green to set up a brilliant birdie. Rather than limping across the finish line, Johnson finished like a champion and secured his place in golf history.
Shaky Week for Other Top Players
Dustin Johnson was already one of the best players in the world entering Oakmont, and he only furthered that position with his performance. However, some of the other top players in the world struggled to find their form on the difficult West-Pennsylvania layout. Among the notable players to miss the cut included Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, and Justin Rose. Jordan Spieth did make the cut, but struggled on the weekend and was not a factor on Sunday afternoon. Jason Day, the top-ranked player in the world, put forward a solid effort – until he made a mess of the 17th hole on Sunday afternoon, ending any outside chance he had at the title.
A Ryder Cup Contender?
With the Ryder Cup quickly approaching, every big event is a chance to take a look at some of the players that will have a chance to make the team. While the top of the U.S. team will obviously be filled out by players like Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth, the rest of the roster remains very much up in the air. One name that golf fans should watch closely over the next couple of months in Bryson DeChambeau. Although DeChambeau only recently turned professional, he has already show the ability to perform on the biggest stages in golf. He put forth an impressive effort as an amateur at The Masters, and he finished T15 at the U.S. Open. The U.S. team needs an infusion of excitement and youth if it is going to turn around recent history in the Ryder Cup, and DeChambeau may be able to provide a little bit of both.
There is very little rest ahead for the top players in the world, as the professional golf schedule this summer is crowded thanks to the presence of the Olympics, as well as the Ryder Cup. However, for this week at least, the golf world should slow down to congratulate Dustin Johnson on finally claiming that elusive first major. With nearly unlimited talent and the ‘monkey’ off of his shoulders, there are likely many more important trophies to come for this exciting player.