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Friday, December 02, 2022

Dustin Johnson seeks to resume his level in the PGA

TULSA, Okla. ( Associated Press) — Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth are examples of how quickly the landscape can change.

Just a year ago, Johnson was the No. 1 player in the world, having come close to winning the past two editions of the PGA Championship and among the favorites to win the trophy every time he played.

Looking ahead to this edition of the contest, which starts on Thursday in Southern Hills, he is twelfth in the ranking. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s their lowest point in the last seven years and the questions have changed.

Instead of: when will he win his next major, now it’s: when will he win again?

It’s been 15 months, 27 starts since Johnson won the Saudi International.

“The problem for me has been with the driver,” Johnson said.

He remembered what happened at the Masters, where his driver was so bad he switched to a 3-wood. It’s not a bad option for most players, but it was for Johnson.

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“I’ve never done that in my life, the 3-wood is the last club in my suitcase that I want to hit with,” he said. “I’ve always felt more comfortable with a driver.”

That would have been a good stick for him at Southern Hills after his acclaimed restoration project. Unlike the last time the PGA Championship was here in 2008 and the players were mostly using irons to get off the tee. Now it’s a 7,556-yard, par-70 course, and the driver could represent a breakthrough.

“Obviously, this is a great place to go straight out there with a drive for me,” Johnson said.

The South Carolina golfer arrived Monday, taking long strides up the hill on his way to the clubhouse, when Johnson was asked if this was his first time playing in Oklahoma.

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“Yes,” he said. “And after this week it will be…”.

He finished the sentence with a smile. At 38 years old and with no major on the horizon in the next eight years, well, he’s going to want to make the most of his time in state.

A year ago, Spieth was 28th in the world, a month away from ending a long win drought, but still far from his game returning to the form that made him a great golfer at 21 years old.

Now the 28-year-old Texan is No. 8 and is coming off a particularly hot streak that followed a disappointing Masters, in which he missed the cut. Spieth won at Hilton Head the following week and finished a shot behind at Dallas last week.

The PGA Championship is the only thing missing to complete the Grand Slam in his career. That will be one of the central themes of this week.

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