Aside from the rehabbing Tiger Woods, do you know who holds the most PGA Tour wins since 2008? I’ll give you a second to think about it. Hint: it’s not Rory McIlroy or Jordan Spieth.
It’s Dustin Johnson.
Johnson sometimes gets overlooked in the hype surrounding young guns such as McIlroy, Spieth and FedEx Cup champion Justin Thomas, but he’s the number one golfer in the world for a reason. While he’ll forever have a shadow of controversy overlooking him, he’s let his mammoth drives do the talking.
Here’s everything you need to know about DJ.
It Begins: PGA Tour Card
Johnson attended Coastal Carolina University and was featured on both the 2007 Palmer Cup and Walker Cup teams for the United States. The South Carolina product turned professional the same year and by 2008 was on the PGA Tour courtesy of acing Q-School.
First Victory and Those That Followed
It didn’t take long for Johnson to reach the winner’s circle. Late in his rookie season of 2008, he won the Turning Stone Resort Championship in October. The following February, Johnson owned Pebble Beach, winning the AT&T Pro-Am event by four strokes, and defended that title in 2010.
Overall, DJ has recorded 16 PGA Tour wins over the course of his 10-year career, which ranks tied for 52nd all-time.
Johnson played in the final pairing at the 2010 U.S. Open, but the moment which arguably made him a household name was at the PGA Championship where he held a one-shot lead entering the final hole. It’s the famous “grounding the club” reel where Johnson let his iron touch the sand of a fairway bunker/pedestrian walkway, depending on your opinion. It resulted in a two-stroke penalty, thus forcing him out of a playoff with Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer.
DJ won his first FedEx Cup playoff event in 2010 at the BMW Championship, and added another at the 2011 Barclays. Johnson captured one victory in 2012 (FedEx St. Jude Classic), then became a multi-time winner the following year.
In 2015, Johnson won the WGC-Cadillac Championship, setting up 2016 to be his breakout campaign. After coming close on several occasions, DJ hoisted his first major championship at the U.S. Open. He also added two additional victories, leading to many accolades including PGA Player of the Year and the Arnold Palmer Award as the money leader.
From Jack to DJ.
The Jack Nicklaus Trophy. pic.twitter.com/PTCcTumijZ
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) October 11, 2016
He opened last season with a dominant victory at the Genesis Open in February, then won back-to-back WGC events in March. His fourth title of 2017 came at The Northern Trust where he upended Jordan Spieth thanks to his ballsy drive over the water which gave him a close chip shot and putted for the playoff win.
DJ's line vs. Spieth's line 😱 pic.twitter.com/R4IL20jSH2
— Brendan Porath (@BrendanPorath) August 27, 2017
Drama On and Off the Course
There have been a handful of minor on-the-course infractions by Johnson, but primarily relate to rules-related issues such as the aforementioned bunker grounding.
But off the course, DJ has been battling demons for years.
Rumors of Johnson sleeping with two wives of PGA Tour members emerged in a Robert Lusetich report years ago. However, Johnson has brushed off those rumblings and is currently engaged to the most popular female in the golf community, Paulina Gretzky. She draws just as large of a crowd as DJ. The couple have two sons, Tatum (3) and River (four months).
Johnson has failed three drug tests conducted by the PGA Tour, including one minor test for marijuana in 2009. The report which shocked the golf world, though, occurred in 2014 when Johnson tested positive for cocaine. It was later revealed that he also was on cocaine in 2012. On July 31, 2014, Johnson announced plans to take the remainder of the golf season off on a voluntary leave, and returned in February the next year.
It appeared DJ had his life back on track, high on loving Paulina and playing the best golf of his career. Until his infamous staircase fall in his Augusta home prior to the 2017 Masters, leading to his withdrawal from the prestigious event.
Johnson has held the top spot in Official World Golf Rankings for a total of 35 weeks. His win at the Genesis Open led to him passing previous leader Jason Day and Rory McIlroy after entering the tournament sitting in third.
We know DJ’s top attribute in his driving distance, ranking top two in the stat category each year dating back to 2013. In 2017, he finished second only to Rory McIlroy at 315 yards per shot off the tee. It’s the second-highest average for his career, behind only his 2015 mark of 317 yards which led the tour.
In 2017, Johnson also led the PGA Tour in strokes gained tee-to-green and strokes gained off the tee. In addition, he owned the longest drive of the season – a 439-yard bomb at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 3, 2017
Other notable stat rankings for Johnson: fifth in strokes gained: approach, 23rd in scrambling and 81st in putting. The putting rank is down from his 36th place mark from 2016.
What the Future Holds
To put his win total in perspective, Johnson is one away from matching Jim Furyk, three wins from tying Ernie Els and eight from reaching the likes of Gary Player at 24 victories. Assuming his career doesn’t take a nosedive, Johnson could get there within four years if he continues at his current pace of about three wins per year.
Despite the meteoric rise of Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, Johnson remains the best golfer in the world according to the rankings. His inconsistencies will come up here and there, but DJ continues to play elite-level golf and will be a force to be reckoned with again in 2017-18.