Dustin Johnson's wins meaningless? Not so fast

Dustin Johnson

Winter truly has been on its game of late, proof of which can easily be secured with a look out any window from the Great Plains to the northeast corridor.

For those who don’t have such a view, there is a natural curiosity to ask just how much snow has fallen. You explain that it has reached “roof-shoveling” proportions and what follows is silence, as if you’ve asked for their pin number.

Suffice to say, we are talking copious amounts of snow in many areas. From this seat just south of Boston, the guess is you could stand up your driver in untouched snow in the backyard and see perhaps only the grip.

As for the height of the snowbanks, let’s just say Dustin Johnson sitting on Chris Wood’s shoulders would enable them to at least get a peek.

If Camilo Villegas insisted on the Spiderman crouch to check out the slope to the driveway, he’d need a few shovels, a lot of time, and some good rock salt.

Ask us how we love this global-warming thing and we’ll tell you it’s a blast – like a three-putt from 15 feet.

And for how long has it been snowing? Seemingly a stretch of time comparable to Tiger Woods’ unprecedented grasp on the top spot in the world rankings.

If you’re thinking that’s a lot of reference points to golf to describe a weather phenomenon that would appear to be light years away from the sport, there’s good reason. The game is hard to shake, even if you’re weeks away from seeing the grass.

Shovels and ice scrapers are in hand here, yes, but being upside down that it is, the world at the other side offers warmth and green grass, so clubs and tee times are ready.

So are a few thoughts.

•••

Show us what you’ve got

Certainly, no player faces more scrutiny in 2011 than Woods, but here’s one man’s thought that Lee Westwood faces the most pressure. He’s No. 1, right? Well, No. 1 players win major championships, so it seems reasonable to expect him to step up, no?

Remember, he’ll be 38 in April, and that puts him in uncharted waters. The previous 12 players to be No. 1 since the rankings began in 1986 all own major championships, and all but three of them had won before reaching 35. Nick Price and Vijay Singh won at 35 and Tom Lehman at 37, so already Westwood is defying the odds.

•••

Is there nothing else to talk about?

This fascination about debating who the best players under 30 are is a confounding one. What’s the point? Is there a separate category at tournaments for the low score posted by a player in his 20s?

Officials at the Masters, U.S. Open, and the Open Championship give recognition to the low amateur, but is there perhaps a green sweater at Augusta National that goes to the leading player under 30?

Should we debate the best players under 25? Or between 30 and 35?

Or, we can wait until the major championships are played and see who the best players are.

•••

Groundless criticisms

That being said, it is disturbing to read careless shots thrown toward Dustin Johnson. “Wins meaningless pro-ams,” I think is the term that was used by a colleague, which is interesting.

Wonder if Byron Nelson, Jimmy Demaret, Billy Casper, Jack Nicklaus (three times), Johnny Miller (three), Tom Watson (twice), Hale Irwin, Phil Mickelson (three), Davis Love (twice), Vijay Singh or Woods would consider their victories in the annual clambake “meaningless.”

Funny, we rip players for not playing in these important vehicles for the various pro tours, now we want to hold them up for ridicule when they win them.

No wonder ours is considered a profession of curious inconsistencies.

But, OK, let’s check to see if indeed the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am was meaningless in 2010. On closer examination, it was worth 48 world rankings points. That’s exactly what the winner of last fall’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship received, guy by the name of Martin Kaymer. Is anyone suggesting Kaymer won a “meaningless pro-am”?

Of course not.

Let’s look even further. It’s been offered as fact that Rory McIlroy has posted his wins against the iron. Interesting, because his Dubai victory in 2009 was worth 52 world ranking points. That same week, Kenny Perry was awarded 54 world ranking points in Phoenix, an indication that the PGA Tour stop was stronger than Dubai.

McIlroy’s other win against the iron? The Quail Hollow Championship last May, and no one will argue. Got him 64 world ranking points, in fact. Pretty good. Just not as good as Johnson’s triumph at the BMW Championship in September, a prize worth 70 points in the world order.

Oh, and that week when Johnson was storming past a stellar field at Cog Hill? Kaymer was winning the KLM Open, though the trophy came with just 32 world ranking points.

Not sure if that rates it as even more meaningless than “meaningless” but the stash didn’t even match those pro-am victories.

•••

It’s a good thing – enjoy it

Naturally, so much of this back and forth is a product of the media’s fascination with this U.S. vs. Europe thing. Asking players why they’re playing Europe but not the U.S., or why they’re playing the U.S. but not Europe seems to be the flavor of the month.

OK, fine. It feeds the storylines.

But here’s hoping that tour commissioners on both sides of the pond realize it should remain a media thing and put a lid on their rhetoric. Instead of shameful chest-punching and petty finger-pointing, would it be too much to ask that they embrace this thought: Never in the history of the game has there been this much talent, this much television, and so many tournaments at every corner of the globe attracting world-class fields – and both the U.S. and European tours are cashing in handsomely.

•••

And a final thought

On more occasions than can be recalled, it has been reported that Ian Poulter has 1.2 million followers on Twitter.

Big deal.

George Wallace got 9.9 million votes in the 1968 presidential election and Ross Perot 19.7 million in 1992.

Welcome to Golfweek.com's comments section.
Please review the posting guidlines here: Golfweek.com Community Guidelines.
All accounts must be verified using Disqus email verification