Golf, as many folks know, is not my thing. I make fun of it rather frequently, and make fun of myself for my own ineptitude when it comes to the sport, but even I am not immune to the tension and drama Sunday night’s final hole gave us when Dustin Johnson reached the green on par-5 18 in two with a chance to take home all the marbles if he sunk his Eagle putt. Instead… He missed from 12 feet. And then he missed again from 12 feet on the opposite side of the hole when sinking it would have forced a Monday playoff (that’s what I was hoping for). Of course there is no guarantee that DJ would have played the strange, tough, oft-criticized Chambers Bay course well on Monday…
But what if….?
It is certainly unfair to rob eventual winner Jordan Spieth of his deserved praise. Back-to-back Major Tournament victories haven’t happened since 2002. The last time anybody won a second Major right after their first was in 1941. We very well could be witnessing the beginning of something very special with Jordan Spieth.
But what if….?
Dustin Johnson can’t be the only guy asking this question, as a handful of players went into their Sunday round within striking distance. But nobody else came within 12 feet on 18…
As a golf “outsider” I’m not quite sure how long a pro has to ask himself that question before he gets over it. Or if he ever gets over it. Pro sports, sports in general, LIFE in general is full of “what ifs?”; but this isn’t the first time Dustin Johnson has “choked” away a Major. And as dismissive as the word “choke” is when describing a pro athlete’s breakdown under pressure, it’s hard to describe Johnson’s 3 putt as anything else. The greens at Chambers Bay certainly made it so no putt was a gimme, but I think that even those of us who didn’t expect or want to see the first 12-footer go in thought he would get the comebacker. But no. The nerves or the course or the yips or destiny dictated otherwise and he missed. Not just the shot, but a chance at being called U.S. Open Champion.
At the end of the day, he goes home with a gorgeous wife and a healthy income from sponsors and all of those things that we admire from the outside looking in, but he likely didn’t get to where he is at being satisfied with those things. I’ll watch Spieth for sure, to see if he can go back to back to back. But more of my curiosity, (admittedly somewhat morbid) will be focused on seeing Dustin Johnson and how he recovers. Not because I think he is going to simply fall off the map or have a Tiger-esque meltdown of skills, but because I want to observe the subtle ways in which a guy at the top of his respective sport shakes off a very public failure, or doesn’t….