OAKMONT, PENNSYLVANIA | If anything, Dustin Johnson is uncomplicated. None of us know what might or might not have been swirling through his mind in the final seven or eight holes of the U.S. Open.
Did a potential impending penalty – that could have cost him the championship – cause him undue stress? Did the weight of an impending – finally – first major championship unnerve him at all?
We won’t have knowledge of the extent that any of the above might have affected Johnson and we won’t have any idea if that penalty stroke – unnecessarily invoked after the close of play when he had the championship won – would have made him feel as if he were star-crossed when it comes to majors.
All we do know is that justice was served in the end and the right player won the U.S. Open, his first major title. Johnson has deserved better in previous majors. But he has quite a bit of responsibility, as well. The PGA Championship he lost at Whistling Straits was an act of fate. But his U.S. Open losses at Pebble Beach and last year at Chambers Bay, among others, were self-inflicted.
No one had any idea, maybe even Johnson himself, whether he had either run out of chances or was simply not constructed to win golf’s biggest events.
On Sunday, however, he either sturdily overcame or neatly ignored any of the demons that might have been lurking around the turn at Oakmont that would have stood in his way. As a result, he is a major champion, a title we have expected for years.
The rest of us might just think it’s more important than he does.