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For Dustin Johnson The Memorial Is A Must-Win

Brian Spurlock-USA Today Sports

On the eve of the U.S. Open, Dustin Johnson has yet to win this season and has looked largely inconsistent.

It seems like Dustin Johnson will never live down his epic 18th hole collapse to at last year’s U.S. Open. After finding the green in two, Johnson had a twelve-footer to either force Jordan Speith into a playoff or capture his first major championship. Avoiding the dreaded three-putt may sound easy for a pro whose ball sits just 12 feet from the pin, but let’s remember that Chambers Bay’s greens were bad, like horrendously bad.

Just ask Billy Horschel:

Johnson would go on to practically hand the U.S. Open to Spieth, finishing second again at the event. For a player heralded around the game as one of its best, Johnson has done very little to dispel the notion that he can maintain a lead over four rounds. 

History is not exactly on his side. Johnson has failed to win the last four events he played in which he led after the first round. Those events included the 2015 U.S. Open, the 2015 British Open, and the 2014 Northern Trust Open. 

In the opening round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village, Johnson recorded an astonishing 10 birdies for an eight-under 64. Still, Johnson was questioned about his breakdown on the 18th hole at Chambers Bay and whether this would effect his play leading into this year’s Open.

An almost incredulous Johnson replied, “I don’t know if anyone’s aware of it, but I’ve played 20 freaking tournaments since Chambers Bay,” Johnson said defiantly after his round. “It’s not that I’ll be OK. I am OK. I mean, I’m playing the Memorial. So I’ve got a lot of other things to worry about than the U.S. Open. I’ll worry about it when I get there.” (CBS).

An adamant Johnson seemed dead-set on dispelling the notion that his collapse at the U.S. Open was more than just a fluke.

Like it or not, Johnson is beginning to paint himself as a golfer with immense talent but one who cannot finish when it matters most. His season scoring average per round only favors this notion.

Round        Scoring Average        Rank on PGA Tour

1                    69.00                         2

2                   68.70                          1

3                   70.60                         71

4                   71.40                          110

Johnson’s dip in performance is as puzzling as it is dramatic. Physically speaking, few on tour can match the swing speed and velocity that Johnson is able to generate. Averaging around 310 yards per drive, Johnson is in the top five in birdies made on par 3’s and 4’s. Simply put, Dustin Johnson is too damn good to be giving away shots when it counts.

One has to question Johnson’s mentality and whether his personal life still haunts him even after he was forced to take a leave of absence in 2014 for his fifth failed drug test in the last three years. Dustin Johnson has also been linked with affairs to two wives of PGA Tour players. Whether it be a lack of focus or confidence, the star golfer seems to be incapable of consistent play. A day after notching a 64 to lead the pack at Muirfield Village, Johnson faltered late on the back nine for an unimpressive 71.

By comparison the young phenom Jordan Spieth has remained consistent through all four rounds, never leaving the top 30 in scoring average. Having the best overall scoring average and most birdies (4.85/round) has netted Spieth six wins since the start of 2015, his last win coming last week at the Dean & Deluca Invitational. 

It also helps to close out a tournament when you can do this:

Dustin Johnson enters the third round of the Memorial in an excellent position to capture his first victory of the season in what might be his most important win on tour. Can he silence the naysayers who have seen the gifted golfer miss out time and time again on victory? 

In just ten days, Johnson will return to the U.S. Open, a tournament that has taunted him with two narrow defeats in five years. A win at the Memorial would go a long way in proving to his critics that he can play consistent, clutch golf if not assure Johnson that he can still win at all.

Edited by Julian Boireau.

Dustin Johnson has the third furthest average driving distance on the PGA Tour. Who has the highest average distance?
Created 6/4/16
  1. Rory McIlroy
  2. Adam Scott
  3. Tony Finau
  4. Bubba Watson

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