Why cool customer Dustin Johnson is cream of the American crop

 
Sam Torrance
Follow Sam
World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship - Final Round
Johnson won in Mexico on his first start since rising to world No1 (Source: Getty)

Dustin Johnson provided a snapshot of his character when his ball got stuck up a tree during the WGC-Mexico Championship on Saturday. Some players might lose their temper, but Johnson just laughed.

That unflappable temperament helped the new world No1 clinch victory 24 hours later, in his first tournament since hitting the top of the rankings, underlining his status as the current man to beat.

Johnson won despite briefly losing his lead to Spanish megastar-in-the-making Jon Rahm on the back nine and even though he lagged near the bottom of the field for putting.

Read more: Johnson begins reign as world No1 with victory in Mexico

He missed 16 putts of 10 feet or shorter – contrast that with the manner of Rickie Fowler’s win in Florida last week – yet he largely played exemplary golf and looked dominant for most of the four days.

The US Open champion needn’t worry about his putting, though. He has a useful stroke, is as cool as a cucumber and, in his defence, the greens at the Club de Golf Chapultepec can be very difficult.

In any case, length is key for DJ. My father’s advice was always to build on your good points and then round off the rough edges. Johnson looks in full control now and has worked hard on his short game.

Better than Spieth

World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship - Preview Day 3
Johnson has honed his big-hitting game by working on his iron play (Source: Getty)

At his best, the distance that he achieves makes him a better player than Jordan Spieth or any of his other fellow Americans. On the other hand, his technique means it is harder for him to play his best all the time.

Very few great players have employed a swing with a shut club face, as Johnson does – Lee Trevino is probably the best example – because the timing has to be so precise, making it more difficult to repeat.

For now, however, he is repeating wins. Victory in Mexico followed his success in Los Angeles last time out and it looks like he’s becoming the prolific winner that we thought he would.

Fleetwood, Rahm and Rory shine

World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship - Final Round
Fleetwood continued his encouraging start to the year by finishing second in Mexico (Source: Getty)

Also enjoying a great performance was England’s Tommy Fleetwood, who played the back nine in a magnificent four-under-par score of 32 to finish just one shot adrift of Johnson.

Fleetwood has obviously drawn a lot of confidence from his triumph at the Abu Dhabi Championship in January.

This latest display, which has lifted him to a career-high ranking of 35, should give him another boost.

World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship - Final Round
Rahm briefly led on the back nine before finishing in a share of third (Source: Getty)

Rahm, meanwhile, showed his class again as he finished tied for third. Like Hideki Matsuyama has, Rahm is enhancing his reputation week by week in what is his rookie season on the PGA Tour.

Having led after 15 holes, bogeying 16 and 17 was tough and will hurt like hell. But he is undergoing a learning process and it was to his great credit that he put himself in a position to win at all.

Rory McIlroy also needs to take the positives, having held the lead at the halfway point but finished in a tie for seventh, four shots behind Johnson.

World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship - Round Three
McIlroy led after two rounds but had to settle with a tie for seventh (Source: Getty)

He’ll be disappointed with his closing 71 but when he reflects he will be very happy with how he played on his comeback from injury. Even legends can be rusty sometimes.

Finally, well done to Dean Burmester. The 27-year-old South African shot a closing 65 to land his maiden European Tour title at the Tshwane Open on Sunday – and on home soil too.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

Related articles