LOS ANGELES • After three tournament wins and a FedExCup title, Dustin Johnson added more hardware to his trophy case on Monday when he was named PGA Tour Player of the Year for a second time.
The American missed the start of the season due to a knee injury and also had to sit out the three-month Covid-19 shutdown like everyone else.
But he then had a blazing end to the campaign with two wins and two runner-up finishes in his last four starts that pushed him back to the top of the world rankings.
Victories at the Northern Trust and Tour Championships earned the 36-year-old a first FedExCup title and the US$15 million (S$20.4 million) payday that goes with the trophy.
The Player of Year is voted by Tour members who played in at least 10 events during the 2019-20 season.
“Dustin made it known throughout the season the FedExCup was a priority and his performances in the FedExCup play-offs were nothing short of spectacular with two wins and a play-off runner-up at the BMW Championship,” said Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.
“His demeanour and athleticism on the course make it look very easy, but behind the scenes, he’s worked incredibly hard and his season speaks for itself.”
The Tour did not release the results of balloting, saying only that Johnson, who also won in 2016, was selected over PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm, Webb Simpson and Justin Thomas.
Johnson, the 2016 US Open champion, will now attempt to land his second career Major at the 120th US Open after finishing runner-up behind compatriot Morikawa at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.
The long-driving star, who has come in second in three of the past five Majors, will be a big favourite when the field tee off in tomorrow’s opening round at Winged Foot, New York.
“Winning a Major is just tough,” said Johnson. “Getting that first one I feel is definitely the hardest. After you win the first one, you know you can do it so it makes it easier, but it’s never easy to win a Major.
His demeanour and athleticism on the course make it look very easy but behind the scenes, he’s worked incredibly hard.
JAY MONAHAN, PGA Tour commissioner, on the inner drive and natural talent that Dustin Johnson has.
“Everything has got to go well. Every part of your game needs to be on point.”
But he hopes to roll into the US Open and November’s Masters with momentum from his FedExCup romp.
“I’m excited. I’m playing well,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in the game, so I’m really looking forward to the next couple of months.”
While Johnson has never played the 7,477-yard Winged Foot layout, which last hosted a Major 14 years ago, the 2006 US Open, world No. 2 Rahm is expecting tough scoring conditions, not too dissimilar to Oakmont in Pittsburgh.
“The greens kind of gave me an Oakmont vibe: Extremely difficult, extremely undulated,” he said.
“You can hold all the greens, even if you don’t hit a perfect shot. It’s just a difficult course. It’s long. It’s narrow. It’s undulated. You just need to play really good golf.”
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE