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British Open: Dustin Johnson sets a wedding date, returns to No. 1 and site of one of his epic major meltdowns

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Golf’s longest engagement appears to be headed to the altar. Dustin Johnson confirmed during his pre-championship press conference that a wedding date with Paulina, mother of his two children, has been set.

“Yeah, it’s next year,” said Johnson.

Whether or not he will hold the title of World No. 1 when he says, “I do,” still is to be determined. Johnson regained the pole position this week from Jon Rahm, but it is a tenuous hold in part because of Rahm’s hot run, which includes winning the U.S. Open last month, as well as Johnson’s sudden cold spell. Since the Genesis Invitational in February, he has recorded just one top-10 finish – a rather disappointing T-10 at that at the Palmetto Championship – and has been a non-factor at the three majors since slipping into his Green Jacket in November (missed cuts at the Masters in April, PGA in May and T-19 at the U.S. Open in June).

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“I need to step up my game a little bit,” he said.

Johnson, 37, is returning to one of his favorite courses on the Open rota, and one where he has enjoyed past success. He called St. Andrews his hands-down favorite British Open site – it will host next year’s 150th Open – but Royal St. George’s apparently isn’t too far behind.

“Put it down as No. 2,” he said.

What in particular does Johnson like about this year’s classic links test in Sandwich, England?

“You’ve got to hit golf shots, and you’ve got to hit them where you’re looking or you’re going to have a tough time,” he said. “For me, I feel like most of it’s going to be driving. If I can drive it well, then I feel like I’m going to have a really good week.”

Royal St. George’s is the site of one of Johnson’s runner-up finishes at majors back before he’d nabbed the U.S. Open in 2016 and added the Masters less than a year ago. That was back when his ability to close at a major was a big question mark. He shot 72 in the final round, tying with Phil Mickelson two strokes behind champion Darren Clarke. Trailing by two at the par-5 14th on Sunday, Johnson had 261 yards into the wind and flared a 2-iron out of bounds. His chances of hoisting the Claret Jug, the silver trophy awarded custody for one year to the championship’s winner, all but ended there.

“That is absolutely shocking,” NBC’s Paul Azinger said at the time. “What was he thinking there? He had half of Kent to his left.”

“That was a long time ago, but obviously I have good memories here, and I did play well,” Johnson said. “Take that shot back, yeah, I’ve got a really good chance to win.”

And if he were to add the Claret Jug to his trophy cabinet, Johnson was asked both where winning it would rank – “It would definitely be right up at the top” – and what he’d drink from it – “Probably beer, I would say, would be the first thing.”

How sweet that would be.