Dustin Johnson has become a quick study at coping with major disappointment.
He had a three-shot lead going into the final round of the U.S. Open, only to make triple bogey on the second hole, double bogey with a lost tee shot on the next hole, and hit his tee shot into the ocean on the fourth hole. He shot 81.
Even more painful -- or so it would seem -- was the PGA Championship, where he thought a bogey on the final hole put him in a playoff. Moments later, Johnson was penalized two shots when he didn’t realize he was in a bunker and grounded his club.
Which was tougher to take?
“Neither,” Johnson replied this week.
Those who have come to know the 26-year-old from South Carolina were not surprised. Johnson doesn’t make golf very complicated, and he doesn’t dwell on that which he cannot change. In a telephone interview last week -- two days after “Bunkergate” -- he said, “I just don’t get why somebody wouldn’t believe me when I say I’m over it. In every sport, you have to go forward.”
Turns out he does have some experience dealing with bad breaks and bad shots.
Johnson recalled one junior tournament in South Carolina when he had a two-shot lead as he played the par-5 18th. He was playing his third shot from the fairway. His opponent -- Kevin Kisner, now on the Nationwide Tour -- was under a tree playing his third.
“He skulled it,” Johnson said. “And there’s a big mound in front. It went over the mound. You could hear it hit the flag and went in the hole. And it was just … a crazy situation. Probably never happen again in a million years.”
Johnson hit a pedestrian shot that spun off the green. He chipped up to about 3 feet and missed the par putt to lose by a shot.
How did he handle that one?
“I just laughed,” he said. “I was young.”