How good can Dustin Johnson be?
Dustin Johnson held off Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter at the HSBC Champions and is starting to leave his mark on the history of the sport.
Dustin Johnson held off charges from Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell on Sunday at the HSBC Champions to win by three over the former and four over the latter.
A final-round 66 included five of his 28 birdies and one of his two eagles for the tournament.
Consider Graeme McDowell impressed.
"He's just a quality, talented, very athletic classy player. Yeah, he makes mistakes, but when you've got a game as good as him, you can get away with a few mistakes."
The win, as Jason Sobel of Golf Channel pointed out, means that Johnson has won in each of his first seven seasons on the PGA Tour.
The performance, as I would like to point, solidifies him as one of the fistful of golfers who can literally and figuratively overpower everyone else in the sport for four straight rounds. Tiger Woods , Phil Mickelson , Rory McIlroy , Brandt Snedeker , Johnson, Adam Scott , and Keegan Bradley . That might be it.
And Johnson is the second-youngest, second-best star of that group which means he and McIlroy have a chance to own golf for the next decade.
In fact, Johnson is already on a trajectory to be one of the best 50 golfers ever.
Don't believe me?
Consider this, from 1950 on there are only 21 golfers who have a better yearly win rate than Johnson (PGA Tour wins divided by years on PGA Tour). Here's the list:
1. Tiger Woods -- 4.39
2. Arnold Palmer -- 3.26
3. Jack Nicklaus -- 2.92
That's a pretty good start. That Woods number is just a total joke. 4.39 wins per year for 18 years.
5. Billy Casper -- 2.55
6. Bob Toski -- 2.50
7. Tony Lema -- 2.40
8. Vijay Singh -- 2.13
9. Rory McIlroy -- 2.00
10. Phil Mickelson -- 1.83
11. Lee Trevino -- 1.71
12. Doug Ford -- 1.58
13. Tom Watson -- 1.56
14. Curtis Strange -- 1.55
15. Sandy Lyle -- 1.50
16. Calvin Peete -- 1.50
17. Mike Souchak -- 1.50
18. Greg Norman -- 1.43
19. Jay Hebert -- 1.40
20. Ken Venturi -- 1.40
21. Tommy Bolt -- 1.36
22. Dustin Johnson -- 1.33
That David Duval number is blowing my mind. He only played five complete seasons on the PGA Tour and had 13 (!) wins.
Equally impressive, though, is Johnson. Eight wins in six years (we aren't convoluting this with seasons because technically this is Johnson's seventh season on Tour, we're just sticking with years for simplicity's sake).
And really, he could have more. We could be talking about a 10-win, two-major 29-year-old star pretty easily [looks at 2010 US Open, 2010 PGA Championship, and 2011 British Open, grimaces].
But we aren't. Johnson thinks those are coming soon, though.
"You know what? If I play like I did this week, I'm going to win one, for sure."
There's plenty of time, too. And it seems like his mental game is starting to approach the tenacity of his physical one. Warding off Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia , Justin Rose , and Rory McIlroy in a World Golf event is no joke.
Johnson acknowledged that after his round.
"I held them off, and fortunately I played really well coming down the stretch. They put a lot of pressure on me, but I'm really proud of myself the way I handled it and the way I finished."
At the very end, after all the hubbub had died down, Johnson was asked about where the HSBC Champions ranked among his eight PGA Tour victories (which include the BMW Championship, Barclays, and two AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-ams).
"Yeah, I mean, this is probably my biggest win, and with the field and the tournament, World Golf Championships. Hopefully there's just better things to come."
There are, Dustin, there definitely are.
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