Dustin Johnson puts his back into Open challenge
America’s Dustin Johnson gave a ringing endorsement for The 146th Open Championship today when he claimed that winning the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale would be on a par with his US Open victory in 2016.
“It would be just as good as the US Open win,” Johnson said. That was the world No.1’s first win in a major championship and it is unlikely to be his last. “It would definitely mean a lot and would be just as good as any of my other wins,” he added.
Such had been the quality of Johnson’s play at the end of 2016 and the start of 2017 that he went into the Masters Tournament in April as a red-hot favourite. His hopes were cruelly dashed, however, when he fell down stairs on the eve of the tournament and had to withdraw with a back injury.
“After the injury at Augusta I spent a lot of time working on my swing and not much time working on the short game, so I struggled a little bit on the greens at Memorial and at the US Open. But the putter feels good now. I'm starting to roll it a lot better and have got a lot of confidence in it. “
Despite missing the cut at the US Open last month, he is heavily focused on victory this week and arrived in Southport last Saturday to begin preparations early.
“I really like the golf course,” he said. “I've got a lot of practice on the course and I feel like it sets up well for me. But it's like any Open Championship, you've just got to control your golf ball. If you can do that, you can get around here and shoot some good scores.
“I feel like I play well over here. I like this kind of golf. You use a lot of imagination and you've got to use a lot of different shots.”
As one of seven first-time winners in the last seven majors, Johnson gave short shrift to the idea that golf needed a dominant player in the mould of tennis’s Roger Federer.
“The talent level is so good from 1 to 50 in the world that it's hard to be that dominant,” he 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 just different. It's a different sport. It's different levels of talent from 1 to 50.”
So, there isn’t a new Tiger Woods on the horizon?
“I don't know if anybody can dominate like he did for that time period he did it for,” Johnson replied. “I’m a big fan (of Tiger). What's not to be a fan of? He's grown this game so much and he's done so much for all the players on the Tour that it's hard not to be.”