Liguori: Full Props To U.S. Open Champ Johnson For Handling Adversity
By Ann Liguori
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OAKMONT, Pa. (CBSNewYork) -- Dustin Johnson has finally won a major title, and he may just be the most deserving winner yet.
Not only did he outplay everyone else on Oakmont Country Club, the U.S. Open's most challenging test, showing off both his power game off the tee and his finesse around the greens, the 31-year-old displayed quite a mental game as well.
Johnson proved that he could deal with the distraction of the USGA questioning whether he should be penalized one stroke for his ball moving on the fifth green.
MORE: Johnson Wins U.S. Open For His First Major Title
An official came out on the 12th hole to tell him that they would decide and let him know afterwards.
How does a player in position to win a major title focus on his game while dealing with that distraction? Dustin said his putter did not cause the ball to move. And the USGA said it would review and announce its decision after the round.
"They said they were going to look at it when we got done," Johnson said. "I felt like I wasn't going to be penalized, so I just went about my business. Just focused on my drive on 12 and from there on out, that we'd deal with it when we got done."
Asked if the episode and penalty matters now, Johnson replied, "It doesn't matter now but -- and I'm glad it didn't matter because that would have been bad. But you know, it worked out."
The controversy brewed throughout the round but Johnson's fine play made the decision irrelevant, as he took a three-shot lead to the final hole. Then he made one final birdie putt to put an exclamation mark on his U.S. Open victory.
Yes, the reason it worked out was because Johnson ended up winning by more than the one penalty stroke that was indeed assessed to him. So his final round score became a 1-under-par 69 and he won the championship with a 4-under 276, instead of a 5-under 275.
But what if he had beaten the competition by only one shot? The controversy would have continued, and loudly, I assure you.
Johnson's win closes the chapter on his missed opportunity at Chambers Bay last year and also on any questions about his mental toughness.
"It couldn't be any better," Johnson said. "I think it's well deserved. After everything that I've been through in the majors. I've knocked on the door a bunch of times. To finally get that major win, it's huge. It's a big monkey off my back, for sure."
To say Johnson's victory was "well-deserved," in this case, is an understatement. He deserves a trophy just for dealing with the unnecessary distraction.
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