KAPALUA, Hawaii – Dustin Johnson’s best asset is not the incredible power and precision he uses for nuclear drives but rather it is his ability to forget just about everything.
Sometimes it is just best to forget.
Forget blowing a 54-hole lead at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach with a final round 82.
Forget grounding your club in a controversial bunker at the 2010 PGA Championship on the 72nd hole at Whistling Straits to be penalized out of a playoff.
Forget three-putting the 72nd hole at the 2015 U.S. Open from 12-feet to lose at Chambers Bay.
Forget dropping a six-shot final round lead at the World Golf Championships – HSBC Champions in China late last year.
Just forget. And move on.
Clearly that is something easier said than done for most of us.
But not for Johnson who is now a 17-time PGA TOUR winner after his eight-shot demolition at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
While he was clearly the favorite heading into Sunday with a two-shot lead at the Plantation Course – the recent collapse in China ensured a victory parade could not be organized early.
How can someone not think of such a brutal collapse when faced with the same scenario again?
Johnson claims he’d forgotten all about China until media reminded him of it.
Sure DJ. Sure. You must dwell on these things just a little…
“Not very long, I don’t think. A day maybe. Not even,” Johnson says.
“I mean I go back over it and talk about it, but as far as how long has it frustrated me or anything, not long.”
Johnson concedes the 2010 U.S. Open loss lingered a whole day – and he quickly forgot it by going fishing. The one at Whistling Straits later in the year with the controversial ruling?
“I was frustrated for about an hour.”
After his infamous three-putt at Chambers Bay in 2015 he was playing golf in Idaho the next day with father-in-law to be Wayne Gretzky.
In Maui this week he had extended his lead to four shots after just three holes on Sunday. It was six at the turn, and seven after a near hole-in-one on the par-4 12th. Clearly the past wasn’t bothering him.
“When I’m out there playing the only thing I’m focused on is the shot that I got to hit next. If my mind’s wandering and thinking about other things, then I’m not going to have a good day,” Johnson said.
“But if I can stay focused just on what I’m supposed to be doing, the shot I want to hit, and the next shot that I’m going to hit, then that’s how I have success.
“Golf is so funny, it really doesn’t matter what you did yesterday. This game, it changes very, very easily. So, for me, it’s just all about pushing forward, and you can’t change anything that happened in the past. You can only control what you’re going to do.”
And clearly Johnson, now 33 years old, has control over what he is doing.
He has now won at least one PGA TOUR event in all 11 of his seasons since his rookie year in 2008 – the longest active streak on TOUR.
Only Tiger Woods, with 18 wins, has more in that span.
Last season Johnson won four times, his best single season mark. Earlier this week he said a historic eight wins or more season was possible and something to strive for.
“It’s a good start if I want to do it. I got off to the right start, for sure,” he smiled
“Winning every year out here on TOUR so far is big for me. I’m very proud of being able to do that. It’s not easy to win out here.
“A lot of seasons I’ve only had one win, but last year was my most and hopefully I can do even better than that this year.”
Johnson says when he’s at his best he feels “unbeatable” and “would welcome any comers.”
“I want a lot more wins. First I want to get to 20, then 30 and once there 40,” he added.
When he was in this sort of mood a year ago he won three straight events at the Genesis Open, World Golf Championships – Mexico Championship and the World Golf Championships – Dell Match Play.
He was headed to the Masters as a clear favorite before slipping on stairs and injuring his back on tournament eve, forcing him out of golf and into a lull of results on return before finding his feet again in the FedExCup Playoffs.
The fall may have cost him, and all of us, an out of this world season.
He won’t stay in the same house this year at Augusta. Even if he probably forgets where it is.