by Jeff Skinner
All the confusion and griping about the new wrap-around PGA Tour season hasn’t changed the way Dustin Johnson plays golf. In his first event in the 2013 PGA Tour season he won at the Tournament of Champions. In the new 2013-14 PGA Tour season Johnson once again showed he likes to strike early with another win in his first start of the season.
Johnson put the pedal to the metal over the back nine of the WGC-HSBC Champions to pull away from Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell for the most significant of his eight career PGA Tour wins.
Johnson is the first player since Tiger Woods to win in seven consecutive seasons since he joined the tour straight out of college. And Phil Mickelson is the only player with a longer streak of winning each year with a ten year stretch. That’s pretty heady company. But unfairly as it may seem, Johnson still wears the label of unrealized potential.
Johnson has a game that is so long he can overpower any course he steps foot on. He’s a long bomber that can bring any course to its knees. And at times we have seen him do just that. But just as quickly we see him disappear from leaderboards. He flutters in and out of contention faster than his golf ball leaves his driver.
After winning in January at the Tournament of Champions his next top ten came eight tournaments later in March at the Shell Houston Open.
He is one of new breed of PGA Tour players: a superb athlete that choose to play golf but may well have been in the NFL or NBA. And there may be another reason why Johnson has to bear the burden of unrealized potential. He plays in the Tiger Woods Era.
Tiger’s other-worldly, record breaking career numbers have jaded an entire generation of golf fans and followers. Woods wins three, four, five, sometimes ten times in a season so these other golfers have to live up to that.
A world that has seen Tiger win 79 PGA Tour events and fourteen major championships forces players to live under unattainable expectations. Many players would trade their entire career for one of Tiger’s seasons but we have to realize Woods is an aberration and a very big exception to the norm.
Eight career wins before his 30th birthday puts Johnson among the elite of PGA Tour golfers. I, like many keep waiting for Johnson to collect his first major but that should not detract from a career that places him in the game’s top golfers.
We often hear a line used by many inside the game but we dismiss it too easily: “It’s really tough to win out there.”
It is really tough to win out there and Dustin Johnson has found a way to do it…each and every year.