Friday, June 26, 2015

Dustin Johnson. Doing it HIS way

In the wake of having a putt to win, then another to force a playoff, then finally missing it as well to "lose" the US Open to Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson has come under scrutiny.

Some say he choked. Maybe. Others claim he has yet to develop the mental discipline necessary to win at the highest level. Maybe. Still others say his competitors routinely outwork him in preparation. Could be.

But a lot of people wonder why a young man with such fabulous golf talent can't seem to break through and win a "big one". These are the same folks that always make such a huge deal over who is ranked where. Somebody has to be #1, 2, 3, etc., in their world. And the only thing that counts is winning, of course. Especially "majors".

Tiger Woods was long caught up in that mentality. He said coming in second is just the first loser and nothing mattered more to him than winning majors. Woods was certainly not alone. Many athletes over the years have strived to be the "greatest". Muhammed Ali once even famously proclaimed himself so.

There can be little doubt that America has long loved a winner (unless his name happened to be Lance Armstrong, Mike Tyson, Pete Rose, etc., but we won't open up those cans of worms here). And for the most part, nobody remembers or cares about who came in second in various events. It's the nature of the business, as they say.

But there's also some hypocrisy afoot as well. If winning is all that matters -- then why is making it to the Final Four in the NCAA college basketball tournament trumpeted to the heavens as some grand achievement? After all, it's just the semi-finals. Few will remember who the runner-up was in the title game, let alone the two teams that got knocked out a couple days earlier.

Maybe Dustin Johnson isn't of that mold. Sure, he'll try his best in any golf tournament he participates in, but perhaps he's not consumed by the winning/have to be the best thing.

Johnson just turned 30 and he's a world class golfer on the PGA tour. He's engaged to a beautiful woman who happens to be Wayne Gretzky's daughter and they have a young child together.

But the purists suggest Johnson doesn't take the game seriously enough. He could be much better if he straightened up and put his nose to the proverbial golfing grindstone. In recent years, it's also been alleged Johnson failed drug tests. One for weed and a couple for coke. The same purists say Dustin likes to party too much. He'll never reach the top unless he "matures".

Well, guess what? Maybe Dustin Johnson is just doing it HIS way. If he wants to have a good time away from golf occasionally partying, including smoking a little dope or doing a recreational line here and there, then who is anybody else to paint him as a bad person?

And hey, chances are Dustin Johnson will never be considered the greatest golfer. But he's travelling all over the world playing on the finest courses and making millions of dollars. All in all, I dare say that's a pretty sweet gig.

#1 is good. Rory and Jordan are currently slugging it out for that honor. But being a consistent Top-Tenner and raking in piles of dough while having a good time isn't exactly the worst thing in the world either. In the US Open, Johnson made $877 thousand and change for coming in tied for second. That will keep Wayne's grandbaby in diapers and formula for a while.

Everybody will continue to talk about titles, rings, MVPs, and the like. It's almost as if an athlete's sucess is defined by it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One doesn't have to always strive to be the greatest. They just need to be pretty good against their competition over the years to enjoy a very comfortable life indeed.

So while many continue to chip away at Dustin Johnson for various reasons -- what man amongst you wouldn't trade places with him in a minute?

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