Column: Johnson leaves no doubt at Dell Match Play


No. 1 golfer in the world, Dustin Johnson, swings his club at the Dell Match Play tournament at Austin Country Club. Johnson won his third consecutive tournament with the victory in Austin.
Photo Credit: Emmanuel Briseño | Daily Texan Staff

Dustin Johnson had just taken a seat in the press room following his 1 up win over Jon Rahm to claim victory at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play.

The sky-blue-colored Walter Hagen Cup, given to the Match Play champion, sat right in front of him.

It was the missing trophy he needed to complete the career grand slam of winning all four World Golf Championship events. So he was asked what he thought about it.

“Uh … pretty good,” Johnson said.

Johnson is man of few words. For as big as his game and talent on the golf course is, his mouth is just as little.

In the famous words of Teddy Roosevelt, Johnson speaks softly and carries a big stick. Johnson’s big stick just so happens to be his driver, a club he swings better and more effortlessly than anyone else in the game. He’s ranked No. 1 on Tour in driving distance for a reason, averaging 316.2 off the tee.

His nonchalant demeanor is so noticeable that on Saturday he was asked if he even has a pulse.

“It’s beating,” Johnson said. “Not very fast. Sometimes it gets going pretty good. It just all depends if I’m walking up a steep hill or something.”

During Sunday afternoon’s final match with Rahm, Johnson was in total control and led 5 up through eight holes. But Rahm went on a tear on the back nine. He won four holes between the 10th and 16th. At the par-5 16th, Rahm hit a 32-foot bomb for birdie to cut the match to a 1 down deficit, sending the crowd into a frenzy.

“(My pulse) got a little faster than I would have liked starting on about 16,” Johnson said. “But I was able to hang in there.”

Johnson hung in there all the way to the 18th, and closed out Rahm, 1 up.

“If his putter had been hot, I wouldn’t have had a chance, no question,” Rahm said.

Johnson has now won three consecutive starts on the PGA Tour, something that hasn’t happened since Rory McIlroy in 2014. Johnson won the Genesis Open in February and the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship earlier this month.

No one in the world is playing better than Johnson at the moment.

“I believe in my ability, and I know what it takes to win out here,” Johnson said. “I still feel like I’m not playing my best golf.”

After so many close calls in majors and on big stages throughout his career, maybe it took that U.S. Open win last June at Oakmont to finally let the floodgates open. Since then, Johnson has won five times and risen to No. 1 in the world.

“I think he’s learned from what he’s done in the past, and he’s embracing it now and that’s why he’s winning tournaments,” Rahm said.

Johnson’s pounding drives and elite wedge play has made him look virtually unbeatable at times. Hideto Tanihara, who Johnson defeated in the semifinals, even admitted Johnson appeared that way. Golf is not an easy game, but Johnson sure does make it look that way at times.

“I mean, some days it does (feel easy),” Johnson said. “But about 95 percent of the days it does not. I feel like when you’re rolling in putts, that’s when the game gets pretty easy.”

With the Masters just days away, Johnson will head into a major as the No. 1 player in the world for the first time in his career. He’s the running favorite — but that doesn’t mean a thing to him.

“How do I like it?” Johnson said. “I don’t care.”

What he does care about is winning that second major. He’ll get his shot in 10 days at Augusta National.