SOUTHPORT, England – Dustin Johnson just couldn’t escape the Wimbledon question on the eve of the 146th Open Championship. The world number one isn’t the deepest of thinkers, but he managed to come up with a decent comparison between the championship Roger Federer won last week and the 146th Open Championship.
Federer, the world number three, claimed his eighth Wimbledon singles title last week to take his major tally to 19. Johnson has another 18 to match the legendary Swiss player, but probably will never get even close to Federer’s tally. He explained why during a pre-tournament press conference that lasted all of seven minutes and thirty seconds. That’s as long as Padraig Harrington needs to make introductory remarks.
“The talent level is so high on the PGA Tour that it’s hard to be that dominant,” Johnson said. “If you look at tennis, the top 50th guy in the world is probably not going to win a major championship, whereas a guy here in the top 50 has a really good shot.
“It’s a different sport. It’s different levels of talent from 1 to 50.”
Johnston’s 2016 U.S. Open win remains his only major victory so far, although he’s had several close calls. He had a chance to win this championship in 2011 at Royal St George’s with five holes to play, but carved his second shot out of bounds on the par-5 14th hole and finished second, losing by three shots to Darren Clarke.
Johnson was the 36-hole leader in the 2015 Open Champion at St Andrews after scores of 65 and 69, but closed with consecutive 75s and placed T49. Last year he was ninth at Royal Troon, his same placing as 2012.
“It would be just as good as the U.S. Open win, for sure,” Johnson said when asked what victory this week would mean. “I feel like I play well over here. I like this kind of golf. You use a lot of imagination. You’ve got to use a lot of different shots. I really enjoy coming over here and playing.
“It would definitely mean a lot, and it would be just as good as any of my other wins. “
Johnson, 33, recorded three straight wins earlier this season in the Genesis Open, WGC- Mexico Championship and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. Then a freak injury in his rented house at the Masters forced him out of the year’s first major. He’s been playing catch up ever since.
“I feel like the game is starting to get back to what it was. I’m definitely hitting it a lot better. I feel like the putter is starting to roll a little bit better.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in it. Everything is feeling pretty good right now.”
Japan’s Hideto Tanihara is currently the world’s 50th ranked player. Wonder how confident he is this week?