The USGA apparently hates bad boys. How in the hell do you tell a human, two-thirds of the way through a golf round, that you may or may not punish them with a one-stroke penalty? Imagine LeBron James playing the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s game without knowing the score. If I’m up two points, maybe I slow the clock down and get it in the paint. If I’m up three, I coast even more. If I’m up one, or it’s tied, well now I’m mentally in an entirely different place.
That is what it is like playing the back nine of a major championship without knowing the score, times a MILLION.
But Dustin Johnson overcame it. What a great afternoon of golf. Post-Tiger PGA is in a tremendous place right now after a few questionable years – there are so many stars out there that make Sundays in the summer as exciting as can be.
Dustin Johnson, however, is a bad boy. Make no mistake about it. The cocaine suspension. The rumors about affairs with other golfers’ wives. The new wife, who was wearing… well let’s just say she wasn’t exactly wearing 18th-hole-at-the-country-club clothes on Sunday. I think this was an all-out sabotage, and to try and sabotage one of the biggest choke artists in golf history was just pitiful. And then, like a phoenix from the ashes, he rose above it all and didn’t choke! How did Dustin Johnson not choke?
I have always liked DJ. Tough to drop that statement after listing his resume in the last paragraph. Whoops. He is the longest hitter on Tour, which is always fun to watch. He has the swagger. And for some reason, I’ve always been a TaylorMade guy. No reason for it. It’s weird when people who like golf just kind of pick a brand and stick with it, but here we are.
But DJ has always been a perennial choker. It’s been his M.O. And not only does he choke, but he painfully chokes. There was 2010 at Whistling Straits. Then there was 2015 at Chambers Bay. I mean, when Dustin Johnson chokes he goes ALL-FREAKING-TIME with it. So I never expected Sunday to ever happen, and when the one-stroke penalty news started, I thought “well, here we go again!”
Oh my God, look at Lee Westwood’s face on the left side of the photo. Yes.
So now we need to find some new people to point and laugh at. Some of them are mostly old faces, who have always been chokers, but now with Dustin Johnson as a certified winner, there are new loveable losers on the Tour that we need to pay attention to. This is essentially a short list of reminders. “Hey, did you remember these guys stink, too?”
Here is the thing with golf – and this goes for pros and amateurs alike – there is no sport more mentally infuriating. Most likely it is because of the individuality of the whole competition. Quite frankly, the biggest opponent in golf is the golfer him(her)self. Which is why, as a fan of professional golf, we need chokers. We need the drama of absolute misery. It fuels the sport. Greg Norman. Retief Goosen. Watching people fail at golf is weirdly as satisfying as watching people experience glory in golf. Let’s find us some losers.
Even before Dustin Johnson won on Sunday, Sergio still had the top spot among chokers. Rooting for Sergio Garcia to fail is as American as apple pie. Perfectly fitting that he was at the top of the leaderboard for this disaster on Sunday – same as Lee Westwood, who we will get to.
This was the man that was going to be Tiger’s arch enemy. Nicklaus/Palmer. Bird/Magic. Columnists across the country painted this as the biggest golf rivalry of all-time. Then Tiger just kept winning. Jesus. Sergio never stood a chance. That went over like a fart in church.
4th at the Masters, 3rd at the British, 2nd at the U.S. Open, and 2nd at the PGA Championship. Talk about coming up short. Yuck. He doesn’t just lose, however, but he does it with style.
Players Championship. Sergio is in first place. This is essentially golf’s “fifth major” so it’s still kind of a big deal I guess. This is going to happen! THREE GOLF BALLS INTO THE WATER ON THE 17TH AND 18TH HOLE. 8th place finish after quadruple and double-bogeys. Cannot make that up. Really cannot. Sergio will always go down in the history as the best loser in PGA Tour history and the mere fact that he is still in the hunt, major after major, only speaks volumes to how much we are going to enjoy him losing for a long time.
“A player, whose championship composure has been tested so many times…” – Jim Nantz, on the one and only Sergio.
This guy just strolls under the radar because his choking is not as fantastic as Garcia, but this guy cannot win any of the big ones. Indeed, 42 career wins is a lot; I’ll give you that (even if only 2 of them were on the PGA tour). But Christ, guy: 2nd at the Masters, 3rd at the U.S. Open, 2nd at the British Open, and 3rd at the PGA Championship. Get over the hump one time for me. Another pairing in one of the final groups this weekend and then just fades into oblivion by the end of the round. Guy hasn’t even won a World Golf Championship tournament before, and I know that all the prize money is in the WGC – at least judging by the back of Hank Haney’s book on Tiger where he lists all of Tiger’s wins. That’s my only knowledge on the WGC.
Lee Westwood actually ended Tiger Woods’ reign as the number one ranked golfer in the world in 2010. He’s been at the top, despite never winning a damn thing. Consider Westwood the Washington Capitals of professional golf. Not to mention, after Westwood’s time at number one, Martin Kaymer reached number one, and that was probably the darkest time in golf’s recent history. When Westwood, Kaymer, and Luke Donald were at the top of the sport, I figured we were all in trouble.
I will give Westwood one thing, however – he is a Ryder Cup stud. That hurts even more for me because the Ryder Cup is all about pride and Lee freaking Westwood keeps causing problems for the United States.
“Don’t get me wrong, I really respect every professional golfer, but I know I haven’t played to my full potential and when that happens, it will be just me and Tiger.” – Ian Poulter, circa 2008, Golf World Magazine.
I hate Ian Poulter more than any human on the planet. I don’t even think it is irrational hate, either. I think there is such a good reason for hating Ian Poulter. He dresses like a complete idiot and he acts like a jack ass for absolutely no reason. Let’s check out Ian’s major finishes: 6th at the Masters, 12th at the U.S. Open, 2nd at the British Open, and 3rd at the PGA Championship.
Can’t even call Poulter a choker, because truth is, he never had a chance in the first place. Guy just doesn’t cut it. “It will be just me and Tiger.” Suuuuure, guy.
The thing about Ian Poulter is that he is the guy that wants to call everyone else out. He wants to let you know when someone else broke an unwritten rule, or they were rude on the course, but frankly, he’s just the biggest jerk in the group. “Ohhh I don’t like how Hideki Matsuyama hit the green there.” If you’re a baseball guy, look up Brian McCann. That kind of moron.
I’m projecting here, because I think this is going to be Fowler’s fate. He has one Player’s Championship title, and six PGA titles overall. And in 2014 he had a monster season – the only player to finish in the top 5 in every single major in that calendar year. They are also all of his best finishes in his fledgling career: 5th at the Masters, 2nd at the U.S. Open, 2nd at the British Open, and 3rd at the PGA Championship.
The entire previous paragraph sounds like a real good start for a 27-year old golfer. But to me, everything about Fowler’s game spells trouble. This is a golfer that has a massive following, primarily in the younger demographics. But he has the potential to put a string of birdie, birdie, par, triple bogey together. That kind of golfer.
Those massive blow-up holes spell nothing but trouble in a major championship. Rickie needs to get one under his belt early in the career because that monkey on his back is only going to get larger – much like Lee Westwood.
I hope I’m wrong about this one, but we shall see…
Shaun’s good ole nugget for the end of each post: Justin Rose will win the British Open.FOLLOW THE OPEN FIELD