Dustin Johnson Deserves to Be in the Conversation Among the Best Golfers

Even the most casual golf fans are acquainted with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and contemporaries like Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth. Yet mention Dustin Johnson and there’s a good chance their eyes will glaze over. In fact, Johnson often fails to get the attention he deserves even within the tight-knit world of golf.

For those who have been following his career, that oversight is almost unthinkable. They would argue that, even at the age of 36, Johnson already deserves to be in the conversation about the best golfers of all time. Let’s closer look at Johnson’s career and why he fails to get the respect he deserves.

Dustin Johnson’s golf career so far

Dustin Johnson during the Green Jacket Ceremony after winning the 2020 Masters
Dustin Johnson during the Green Jacket Ceremony after winning the 2020 Masters | Rob Carr/Getty Images

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Johnson, who was born in 1984 in Columbia, South Carolina, broke into the world of professional golf in late 2007. His first PGA Tour win came near the end of his rookie season, details Golf Weekly, when he won the now-defunct Turning Stone Resort Championship in upstate New York. From there, Johnson began accumulating wins at an impressive rate.

To date, Johnson has won 24 PGA Tour events, according to PGATour.com. He captured his first major victory in 2016, winning the U.S. Open at Oakmont by a three-stroke margin with a score of –4. That year he was named both PGA Player of the Year and PGA Tour player of the Year. He also led the PGA Tour in terms of overall money winnings.

Johnson captured his second major victory back in November when he won the 2020 Masters Tournament by a margin of five strokes. Even more impressively, Johnson made history by posting the lowest score in Masters history, as reported by ESPN. Johnson’s 24 career wins put him in a tie for 26th on the all-time leaderboard.

Why Johnson still gets overlooked as an all-time great

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Despite numerous impressive wins over the course of his career, and despite already being the fifth-richest golfer of all time, Johnson still struggles to get the respect he deserves. On one hand, it’s just the result of playing in one of the most competitive eras of golf has. Johnson’s relatively small number of majors victories proves just how tough that competition is.

Yet Johnson has had plenty of opportunities to rack up big wins, only to fail under pressure. That has been particularly true when it comes to his performance in majors. According to Golf Digest, there have been four occasions in which Johnson has led going into the last round of a major, only to end up blowing the win.

Those kinds of losses hang heavy on a golfer’s career resume, especially when they fail to amass a significant enough number of victories. Johnson’s recent Masters win took some of the pressure off in that regard. He finally proved himself capable of living up to his true potential and converting on his hard work. The only challenge now is to keep that streak going.

What Dustin Johnson needs to do to truly make his mark

At this point, the name of the game for Johnson is sustained success. He’s had an incredible five year run as one of the best golfers in the game. If he can remain competitive for another five years, then he has a real chance of vaulting himself into a conversation about being of the all-time greats.

Nobody expects Johnson — or anybody else, for that matter—to make it to 50 wins. The days when that was a reasonable goal for a golfer are gone. Instead, as CBS Sports recently pointed out, we need to evaluate today’s golfers on a sliding scale. In Johnson’s case, he can cement his legacy as one of the best ever by securing three more major victories and 11 more total PGA Tour wins.

That would give Johnson five majors wins and 35 PGA Tour wins — more than enough to put him on par with a bonafide legend like Mickelson. The only question now is whether Johnson can sustain his winning pace long enough to meet that goal.