Some Golfers Step Up On Major Sundays. And Then There’s Dustin Johnson.

Dustin Johnson has finished any of a past 3 seasons ranked among a top 3 players in a world. He has some-more wins on a PGA Tour than any active golfer not named Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, and over a final year he’s won tournaments in Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.1 By all accounts, Johnson is a unaccompanied talent. But notwithstanding a bequest that is clearly unassailable, a 34-year-old has usually one vital victory.

Johnson knows this. Before final month’s PGA Championship, he concurred his frustration, revelation reporters, “I’ve had utterly a few chances, and I’ve felt like a few of them, we unequivocally didn’t do anything.” Days later, in a final turn during Bethpage Black, he finished one of a best performances of his vital career, according to Data Golf’s loyal strokes gained metric.2 He also bogeyed dual of a final 3 holes, floating a possibility to locate Brooks Koepka. Considerably some-more bandwidth was spent on him carrying finished second for a second uninterrupted major, putting a final hold of his career grand impact of runner-ups and dropping to — we guessed it! — second in a universe golf rankings than was spent on him being a usually actor in a margin to shoot next standard in all 4 rounds.

Some see in him a best athlete in a sport, a supernatural motorist with a pitch method honourable of a MoMA exhibit. At his best, Johnson creates a competition seem effortless; when all gels, he is unsurpassable. In a diversion dominated by power, Johnson hasn’t finished a deteriorate ranked reduce than sixth in normal pushing stretch given he assimilated a debate in 2008.3 But others see a combination of underachievements, a male too talented, too physically means that a sole vital win doesn’t suffice. It’s golf’s biggest talent plummeting down a moody of stairs on a eve of a biggest eventuality of a calendar.

Johnson’s letdowns have turn legend. There was a ground-club fort gaffe during Whistling Straits that cost him a PGA Championship in 2010, a three-putt during Chambers Bay that cost him a U.S. Open in 2015 and a third-round 77 during Shinnecock during final year’s U.S. Open. The final time a U.S. Open was during Pebble Beach, in 2010, Johnson held a three-stroke lead after 54 holes before imploding with an 82 in a final round.

This points to Johnson’s loyal issue: It’s not that he struggles to perform during majors, yet that he struggles to tighten them out. For some, this is legacy crippling, equivalent to Michael Jordan or Tom Brady unexpected declining in a loss moments of a NBA Finals or a Super Bowl. But a idea binds H2O statistically. According to a round-by-round research of Johnson’s loyal strokes gained,4 his numbers plunge from 2.03 and 2.58 during a opening rounds of majors to 1.82 and 1.03, respectively, on a weekend.5 At nonmajors, however, his normal loyal strokes gained spike after cut day and are during their tip on championship Sundays.

Sunday is DJ’s misfortune day

Average loyal strokes gained for Dustin Johnson in majors and nonmajors by contest round

Source: Data Golf

This is abnormal. Of a 10 misfortune vital rounds in Johnson’s career, 4 came during Round 4. Relative to a margin during a fourth round, Johnson averages 0.67 some-more loyal strokes gained during nonmajors than he does during majors.

For context, we compared Johnson’s career opening to a preference of his contemporaries and rivals. That disastrous inconsistency in a final turn is incomparable than any of a contemporaries we sampled and contrasts mightily with that of Koepka, who averages 1.08 some-more loyal strokes gained on a final day of majors than he does during run-of-the-mill events.

Johnson doesn’t lift his diversion to a vital level

Average loyal strokes gained in a fourth turn via a careers of important golfers in majors and nonmajors

Source: Data Golf

The usually golfer among DJ’s peers to come tighten to his fourth-round letdown is Tiger Woods. But Woods has averaged a mind-melting 2.93 loyal strokes gained in Round 4s during nonmajors, by distant a biggest figure in a sample, so a dump to a still-impressive 2.50 in majors isn’t accurately shocking.

Over a march of a four-day tournament, Johnson is still abrasive a margin — even during majors. His opening in loyal strokes gained during majors is 0.35 improved than during nonmajors. When compared with a altogether vital splits of some of a tip golfers, that disproportion is mostly average. In other words, Johnson’s championship problem is mostly given of a fourth round.

Johnson still plays improved altogether in majors

Average altogether loyal strokes gained via a careers of important golfers in majors and nonmajors

Source: Data Golf

The good news for Johnson is that his altogether vital opening is improving — even if it isn’t producing trophies. Much of Johnson’s repute for unwell to overcome majors was cultivated before to his 30th birthday. Indeed, a 5 best seasons of Johnson’s career by true strokes gained have come given he incited 30, in 2014. And that rise opening has manifested during majors, too, where he’s finished an normal of scarcely 10 spots improved compared with how he finished in his 20s. Entering a Masters, usually Jordan Spieth and Johnson had led during slightest 10 vital rounds given 2014. This weekend’s U.S. Open during Pebble Beach — where DJ and Koepka are co-favorites — will be Johnson’s 19th given branch 30.

Johnson is removing improved with age

Average loyal strokes gained per turn in majors for Dustin Johnson before and after his 30th birthday

Source: Data Golf

It’s doubtful that Johnson could ever live adult to a public’s expectations of him. The abuse of appearing as yet we were designed by a supercomputer is that a formula contingency follow. Johnson is able of producing any shot on a golf course, yet his opening during majors, during slightest in terms of how a open command vast perceives it,6 understates how well-developed he is. And given a major-winning declaim typically goes dry by a player’s mid-30s, a hourglass is using out for Johnson to uncover a universe that he can win when it matters a most.

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