US Open: Dustin Johnson ready to banish memories of 2010 Pebble Beach nightmare
By Ben Reynolds
Last Updated: 12/06/19 10:32pm
Dustin Johnson arrives at Pebble Beach this week ready to banish memories of a brutal weekend on the course in 2010 which allowed Graeme McDowell to claim the US Open trophy.
Heading into the final round with a three-shot lead, Johnson suffered a nightmare few hours, posting 82 to finish in a tie for eighth.
Johnson has since claimed his sole major championship, winning at Oakmont in 2016, but speaking on Tuesday ahead of this year's tournament, he was asked to look back at what turned into a nightmare Sunday nine years ago.
"I played a great round on Saturday," he said. "I remember the golf course, I felt like the set-up was fantastic. It played really firm and fast. It was a good week. I played really well."
The then 25-year-old had preached on the Saturday evening about the need to be patient and that may have been the plan, but it didn't last long.
"I got off to a fairly good start," he added. "I hit two shots on the green on one, made a nice two-putt. And hit it right down the middle on two, had a wedge in. And it went downhill from there."
It certainly did. Faced with a difficult shot around 35 feet from the hole on the second, he was forced to address the ball left-handed. With barely a pause, he swiped and the ball nudged forward a few feet.
He barely stopped before hitting his next shot - a high lofted-wedge that was supposed to carry to the hole - but he nearly missed the ball entirely as the wedge slid under the ball, which popped up and jumped another couple of feet forward.
Again, Johnson did not stop to pause and collect his thoughts, instead knocking another wedge shot to three feet. But he then stabbed at the putt and missed, eventually tapping in for a triple-bogey seven. His overnight lead was gone.
"You try not to think about it," said Johnson on Tuesday. "But you kind of just got to laugh. Where it ended up, it was just unlucky. If it goes in the bunker, it's fine. If it flies another foot, it probably kicks on the green. It was just one of those -unlucky. I hit a bad shot, though, period. I had a wedge in that shouldn't have missed the green. But it was a bad shot, and then compounded it on the next hole."
Indeed, that was just the start. Perhaps flustered from his trials on the second, he pulled out a driver on the third tee and proceeded to hook it somewhere in the direction of the 16th green.
Somewhere, because no one could find it. After five minutes of searching, Johnson declared the ball lost and began the walk back to the tee to hit another, only for a fan to almost immediately find his ball. Too late. The rules dictated he must hit a new tee shot.
He made double-bogey six, before missing a six-foot par putt at the fourth, and more short-game woe saw him collapse to a final-round 82 to finish in a tie for eighth.
Speaking the following year about his nightmare, he admitted: "I really got fast, especially after making seven there. I really got fast with everything. I started walking a little faster, swinging faster, just going through my routine faster."
But with the blessing of time, Johnson can look back on 2010 as a moment in his journey, a necessary lesson on his route to the very top of the game.
"It was a good experience," he said as he prepares his bid for a second major trophy. "I learned a lot from it and then came right back and had a really good showing in the PGA later that year. I was in the final group again and played really well. Unfortunately, I got a one-stroke penalty there on 18, but it happens.
"But the 2010 US Open felt like it was a great week and the course is shaping up. I feel like the golf course is getting to where it's going to play like that later on this week. It's going to play tough. You've got to be very, very precise."
Johnson's game is certainly precise, and with a pair of runners-up finishes in the opening two majors of the year, he perhaps looks perfectly poised to go one better and finally banish those 2010 memories.
Get the best prices and book a round at one of 1,700 courses across the UK & Ireland