When Dustin Johnson raced out to an easy U.S. Open lead only a few days after initially laying eyes on Shinnecock Hills, The Forecaddie asked his mentor how the World No. 1 does it.
“He’ll tell you, if I can’t figure out a course in three days, maybe I shouldn’t be doing this,” Wayne Gretzky said before the bizarre weekend of changing green speeds and goofy hole locations appeared to get the best of DJ. After Sunday’s final round, Johnson uncharacteristically passed on chatting with the media, suggesting this was one major he will forever not get over.
The Man Out Front has a sneaking suspicion a focused Johnson will turn up at Carnoustie – where he has played in two Alfred Dunhill Links – on a mission in what may be his favorite kind of golf: fast, firm links. Johnson’s agent, David Winkle, said he’s never seen a player more “adept at seeing and using slope,” and he repped former British Open champion and short-game wizard Justin Leonard.
The Great One believes DJ’s knack for creativity when he gets on a links is something more profound than just visualization. Gretzky says in rounds at Sherwood in Los Angeles or in
Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho, first-time members of their foursomes get a bit of a surprise.
“The first time people play with him, they are pleasantly surprised at his knowledge not only for the game itself and the equipment and the balls, but the golf course design itself,” said No. 99. “The soil, the types of grasses, the greens, which way they drain … he’s pretty remarkable.”
He takes the confident approach into tournament play.
“I said to him one time maybe you should use (caddie brother) Austin now and then for green reading,” Gretzky noted. “He said, ‘Why would I? I can read greens better than anyone
in the world.’ “Whoa!
“It’s not egotistical, it’s a fact. He’s just much more knowledgeable about the game and the sport than people give him credit for. I think he’s actually sort of a golf Einstein.” Gwk
(Note: This story appeared in the July 2018 issue of Golfweek.)