Dustin Johnson’s stellar win helps put golf back on the map
Player rises to third in world rankings amid mounting concern that the Ryder Cup will be postponed until 2021
Hong Kong — One player’s amazing streak continued, Ryder Cup speculation grew and a player retired with an almost perfect finale — here are this week’s talking points in golf.
Dustin Johnson is back up to third in the world rankings after recording his 21st PGA Tour win since turning pro in 2008, a tally matched only by Tiger Woods in the same period.
World No 1 Rory McIlroy, who also began his pro career in 2008, is next on the list with 18 PGA Tour titles in that time, but he has four Majors and eight European Tour trophies whereas Johnson has only one of each.
But Johnson, 36, kept up his incredible streak of winning at least once in each of his 13 seasons on the PGA Tour with victory at the Travelers Championship last weekend.
The victory puts Johnson three PGA Tour wins behind Gary Player, but with only one Major to his name, the 2016 US Open, opinion is split as to whether he can yet be ranked among the game’s greats.
But consider this: only Arnold Palmer (17), Jack Nicklaus (17) and Tiger Woods (14) started their careers with wins in more consecutive seasons. Exalted company indeed.
Surely the laid-back, big-hitting “DJ” is only a couple more Major wins from being recognised as truly one of the game’s greatest.
Speculation is that 2020’s Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits will be postponed until 2021, with an announcement likely as early as this week.
European Tour chief Keith Pelley originally promised a decision by the end of June, when course preparations at the Wisconsin layout would need to begin to be ready for the September 25-27 US vs Europe showdown.
Many top players, including McIlroy and Brooks Koepka, have said that holding the noisiest event in golf without colourful galleries of partisan fans would be unthinkable.
The US PGA Championship, the first Major of the year in August, has already announced that it will be played without spectators, and there has been a surge in coronavirus cases in the US in recent days.
With five PGA Tour players testing positive for Covid-19 in the past week and the European Tour unable to restart until July, the most responsible course of action would seem to be reverting to odd-numbered years for the first time since 1999; the 2001 event was postponed for 12 months because of the 9/11 attacks.
US journeyman Daniel Summerhays came within a whisker of a Cinderella sign-off as a professional at the weekend. The 36-year-old had ground out eight seasons on the PGA Tour without a victory until losing his card in 2017.
Further lean years followed, and Summerhays announced last week that the Korn Ferry’s Utah Championship on his home course would be his final tournament before taking up a new career as a high schoolteacher.
And then he nearly won it. Summerhays saved his best till last, signing for a nine-under par 62 on Sunday and the clubhouse lead at 20 under. Three hours later he found himself in a playoff with Paul Haley II and Kyle Jones but agonisingly the fairytale ending did not materialise as Summerhays bogeyed the first playoff hole.
Jones won a hole later. But a beaming Summerhays was still grateful for the chance.
“Oh man, to be in that position, to be able to have a little bit of extra golf was spectacular,” he told the Golf Channel. And the performance had not changed his mind about retirement.
“When it comes time for school in August, that’s where I’ll be,” he said.
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