As DJ steps out of Paulina’s Instagram shadow, can he fill the gap left by Tiger?
‘DJ has just 13 years to go to reach Tiger’s record of 683 weeks atop the world rankings’
Ialways like to give you an idea of the background to my writing this column – some context to my monthly ramblings. So I am currently sitting on my sofa with our newest puppy, Mabel, who insists on joining me as some sort of subeditor, pawing occasionally at the keyboard of my laptop. Some of her writing is actually quite good, although perhaps with an overdependence on gravy bones as a subject matter.
I am also juggling many thoughts in my limited-capacity brain – not only this column but prep for The Boat Races which take place the day before travelling to Augusta.
With regard to The Masters, Dustin Johnson is currently a strong favourite. My money would be more likely to settle on Jordan Spieth or Phil Mickelson. And it also looks as if Mabel has just tried to hammer out the name Jeunghun Wang on the keyboard – but then, she is a 15-week-old Labrador and therefore an idiot.
However, we are not here to preview the Masters, for by the time you read this it will be done and dusted – Jeunghun Wang will probably be the champion and Mabel will be wearing a little crown and sitting on top of an enormous pile of squeaky toys.
It is instead a chance to talk about Dustin Johnson – the man who, at the time of writing, holds a lead at the top of the world rankings the size of which has only been beaten by Woods and Mcilroy in the last 20 years.
But what are the best features of the 20th man to hold the number one spot and be the flag-bearer for golf? What category would you choose if you were playing Top Trumps on world number one golfers? Well let’s have a think ....
● CHARISMA You have barely said the word before your opponent is taking your card in his grubby hands. He could have brandished either Seve or Greg Norman, who traded the number one position in the early days of official rankings. In fact he could have been holding Adam Scott and it would still have been close. This is not Johnson’s strong point. ● MAJORS WON If you chose this you might think you would struggle with Johnson’s solitary victory in the US Open last year – but in fact six other men reached the top with just one while Luke Donald and Lee Westwood have achieved it without even breaking their Major duck. ● POWER Now we’re talking, as Johnson is the epitome of the modern, lengthy game. No doubt, given today’s equipment, Greg Norman would have been able to shift it a fair old way, but Johnson
has been in the top two biggest hitters on tour for the past five years. Mcilroy is in front so far this season, but chances are that DJ is winning you a card here. ● GLAMOROUS PARTNER Johnson goes from strength to strength as his significant other is Paulina Gretzky, model daughter of Wayne Gretzky, the greatest ice-hockey player of all-time. Her work appears to consist mainly of posting Instagram footage of her in various states of undress with the occasional cameo from DJ. If you have Johnson’s card this is a rock solid category, although it’s complicated as many of the players have an asterisk leading to a sub-section of additional information. Best just to award the victory to Dustin and move on. ● HEIGHT Winner. In fact, according to official heights, Johnson is the tallest of all 20 of the world number-one players, edging out Nick Faldo and Ernie Els by a couple of centimetres. Until Chris Wood steps up his game Johnson will reign supreme here. Your opponent gnashes his teeth in impotent rage but can have no argument as he hands over Ian Woosnam.
● RECOGNITION Hmmm… You might be in trouble here. Tiger would, of course, crush all challengers while Norman, Ballesteros and Mcilroy would do reasonably well. Dustin might get a few selfie requests in Florida country clubs, but worldwide he’s not going to do it against those guys. More likely answers from members of the public when shown a photo would be ‘I’m not sure – he looks a bit like Mike Nesmith from the Monkees’. Or, ‘Isn’t he the guy in the background of Paulina’s Instagram videos?’ ● LONGEVITY A serious category to finish. Is Dustin Johnson going to stay on top for a while? The shortest reign belongs to Tom Lehman, who had one glorious week at the summit in 1997. By comparison it was testament to Luke Donald’s consistency that he was world number one for 56 weeks. As for Johnson? He’s currently on six, with just 13 years
to go to reach Tiger’s record of 683. So that is DJ. Can he be a player to excite and engage spectators? Well on the course he can, simply because of the way he hits the ball. Off the course, perhaps not. But we expect too much. Nobody fares well in comparison to Tiger. Johnson is just the latest in a line of very talented players to step into the yawning gap left by Woods’ demise. What’s more, as I look at Instagram again – purely for research purposes you understand – I notice that he likes dogs as well. And that’s good enough for me.