Most of the time, when golfers blow up in the final round of a major championship, they are done for the year. The demons sneak into their fragile little minds and keep reminding them, on the golf course, at the grocery store and even in bed, that they had a chance at immortality and failed. Miserably.
Not with Johnson. Nope. Not even close. This "kid" (if we can still call him kid) that posted a soul-crushing 82 in the final round of the U.S. Open when he headed into Sunday with a three-shot lead, seemed to shake it off the moment the final putt dropped. He focused his attention on a tough day on the golf course and nothing more. Maybe the demons caught up with him at his next event, when Johnson missed only his third cut of the season, but he bounced back quite nicely.
A tie for 14th at the British Open, alone at 15th at the Bridgestone, and then that terrible, horrible, "how can you still be alive on Monday" moment at Whistling Straits, when Johnson missed a par putt on the 72nd hole for the "win," only to be informed that he would not be participating in the three-hole playoff because he, like the rest of us, thought a patch of dirty sand was just that, dirty sand. It turned out to be a bunker, and you know the rest of the story.
CBS caught up with Johnson after a shower while the playoff was going on, and he looked stunned, no doubt, but you could tell that he'd be all right. It was still a top-five at a major, and if you can somehow make yourself realize that, you'll be way better than most.
Johnson could have curled up after that PGA Championship and nobody would have blamed him. As far as bad breaks go, that is one of the toughest I can remember on the golf course, but he was set to play at the Barclays, and play he did.
For a guy that hits the ball a country mile, you can't help but notice how many low scores he's produced this season. At the Barclays, he did it again, with a third-round 64 that got him in the final group on Sunday. It was his sixth round of the season of 65 of better, and although he didn't win the first leg of the FedEx Cup, he still gave himself a chance to win.
Hit the golf ball, hope it finds the fairway, pull out an iron and see how close you can get it to the flag. That's what we all wish we could be thinking on the golf course. For Johnson, it seems that simple, and it has helped him get through a 2010 that can be perceived as tough (chances to win two majors but failed) or great (a win and two top 10s at majors). I'm assuming Johnson will focus on the latter.