Sept. 21-26, 2021 Whistling Straits, Kohler, WI

DUSTIN JOHNSON


Residence: Jupiter, Florida
Age: 37
World Ranking: 2
Ryder Cup ranking: 2
Ryder Cup appearances: 4 (2010, 2012, 2016, 2018)
U.S. Ryder Cup record: 7-9-0 total (3-5-0 four-ball, 1-3-0 foursomes, 3-1-0 singles)

This will mark Dustin Johnson’s fifth Ryder Cup appearance, only missing the 2014 playing of the matches in Scotland since his rookie stint in 2010 at Celtic Manor in Wales.

Johnson’s six-month stretch to end 2020 and begin 2021 was an epic run. He played an 11-tournament span from August to January where his worst finish was a 12th-place tie. The stretch also produced three victories – including a historic, record-setting win in November at the Masters – and three runner-up finishes. DJ topped the U.S. Ryder Cup standings for an impressive 48 weeks before ceding the top spot to Collin Morikawa following the latter’s win at The Open.

That said, there has been a more recent stretch where he hasn’t played as well as he would’ve liked. Johnson was the overwhelming No. 1-ranked player in the world to start the year, and while a T8 finish at The Open was a step in the right direction last month, he’s dropped to No. 2 in the world behind Jon Rahm.

But with DJ, top form is never, truly, very far away.

What DJ brings to the team

For starters, Johnson is one of the few members of Team USA who has the ability to play in all five matches if Captain Steve Stricker needs his services, although he’s only done so once in his career, three years ago outside Paris. But Johnson is fit, he’s solid in both the four-ball and foursomes formats and has many options with whom to partner.

Although Johnson isn’t as vocal as some of the other members of the team, he’s a leader in the team room and has been ranked No. 1 in the world longer than anyone on the planet not named Tiger Woods or Greg Norman. He has the credentials and the trademark swagger to go with them.

“I think any time you can play an important role in winning a Ryder Cup, I think that’s what everybody wants,” Johnson said in 2018. “Everybody wants that putt to win the Ryder Cup or to win your match or whatever the case might be, or be on the sideline cheering the guys on.”

Ideal partnerships

Johnson has only partnered with five different players in his previous four Ryder Cup appearances. Of those five, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler will not be on this team. That leaves Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson as potential partners, although it wouldn’t be a surprise if he doesn’t play with either.

Mickelson is not currently ranked inside the top 12 in U.S. Ryder Cup standings and thus not guaranteed to make the team, although there’s plenty of support for Stricker to add the reigning PGA Championship victor to the squad. If Stricker does pick Mickelson, Lefty would likely only play two, maybe three matches.

Meanwhile, Johnson and Koepka haven’t been as successful together as you’d imagine. Point is, this seems like the perfect time to find DJ a new partner.

The veterans are going to want to get their hands on some of the younger team members who have loads of talent and are eager to play on home soil. As one of the top players on Team USA, Johnson is going to be able to play with whoever he wants.

Xander Schauffele would be a good place to start, and there wouldn’t be much of a need to look any further.

Past results

Johnson had a winning Ryder Cup record before a 1-4-0 performance three years ago outside Paris and yet he’s still at 7-9-0. That’s a noble feat considering that Johnson has only been on one winning Ryder Cup team (2016 at Hazeltine) in his career.

Most of Team USA played poorly in France, which more than explains the seven-point route (17 ½ to 10 ½). DJ won his opening four-ball match with Rickie Fowler in easy fashion, then did not produce his best golf over the next four matches.

Johnson is a great asset in all formats at the Ryder Cup, but especially in four-ball, where he can just simply bash away the entire round, play his own ball and make birdies by the bushel. He’ll likely be tough to beat in Sunday singles, as is evident by his 3-1-0 record, the only blemish being a loss to Ian Poulter three years ago.

This year’s matches present a perfect time for Johnson to play a lot, play well, get the American gallery roaring and get that career record heading back in a favorable direction.

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