Cool character not feeling the heat
Dustin Johnson, as he set off on the final lap of the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan, was being chased by Brooks Koepka and Henrik Stenson, along with a few thousand women who see him as just about the most attractive sports’ star on the planet.
The more serious golfers may have been fascinated by the extent to which he would play safe and sensible golf by way of hanging fast to his lead (six shots) en route to winning what would be his sixth WGC championship. However, for most of the crowd it was more about the his looks, his good manners and the gloriously laid back attitude he brings to bear.
The laid-back attitude is arguably his strongest suit. Unlike that woman golfer who, when asked how she felt at being seven up at lunch in a Scottish Amateur championship of many years ago, replied that she was terrified she might lose each of the next seven holes, Johnson doesn’t think along negative lines.
He won’t be worrying about what Koepka and Stenson are doing as they play alongside him today: he will be quietly minding his own business and playing the same patient game that he has been playing all week: “I’m going to stick to it and hopefully execute,” is what he said. He was expecting the wind to blow harder and, in this connection, he would no doubt have looked at the leaderboard before he teed off and noticed how none among the 60 or so players already out on the course was better-placed than one under par. And that not a few were three over.
Of course, there have been plenty of big events in which players have staged monumental comebacks, most notably the 1999 Open championship where Paul Lawrie came from ten back after three rounds to beat John Van de Velde and Justin Leonard on the four-hole play-off.
Nobody at Sheshan, though, was anticipating Johnson doing a Van de Velde and getting caught up in the equivalent of the Barry Burn. Not, mind you, that too many among his army of admirers would have objected to the sight of this cool dude taking off his socks and shoes.