PARAMUS, New Jersey (Reuters) - Dustin Johnson said he would dust himself off and try all over again after winning a major amount of sympathy and confidence following his bittersweet PGA Championship this month.
Johnson was poised to join a three-way playoff at Whistling Straits when he walked off the last green until informed he had been handed a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a sand hazard on the 72nd hole of the championship.
The long-hitting, 26-year-old from South Carolina had hit his tee shot well beyond the ropes right of the fairway and, with spectators crowded around his ball, he thought his wayward drive had settled on trampled down dirt.
“The PGA was just an unfortunate situation,” Johnson told reporters on Tuesday ahead of this week’s Barclays tournament, the opening event of the U.S. PGA Tour’s FedExCup playoffs.
“It wasn’t hard to get over, because there’s a lot of good things that I can take out of that week. I played really well coming down the stretch, making birdies when I needed to. So there’s nothing bad that I can take from that week.”
Johnson said the shock of missing out on the playoff won by Germany’s Martin Kaymer over American Bubba Watson was eased by the outpouring of sympathy and support he received, and a restful week spent fishing.
“I’ve had a lot of good phone calls and a lot of good text messages from my peers and friends,” he said. “And so I‘m very happy the way I’ve handled it and the way it’s been received.”
Johnson also came frustratingly close to notching his first major victory at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where he held a three-stroke lead going into the final round before shooting 82, but he believes a major triumph is just a matter of time.
”There’s nothing that I can really get down on myself about that (PGA) week, because I did everything that I wanted to do,“ said Johnson. ”I had a chance to win coming down the stretch on Sunday. I played well coming down the stretch.
“If I keep playing like I‘m playing, there’s no doubt that I think that I‘m going to be contending in a lot of majors. I think and I believe in myself that I can get it done.”
Johnson chalked up his mistake to a learning experience, like the one at Pebble Beach.
”I was very patient. I need to be patient,“ he said about his demeanor at the PGA. ”I took things from the U.S. Open and used them during the final round of the PGA.
“And it worked. And I was there with a chance to win.”
Editing by Rex Gowar