It was quite the start to the new year for Dustin Johnson. His dominant eight shot romp in the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions on Hawaii at the weekend provided his rivals with plenty to ponder going into 2018.

His booming drives, meanwhile, were so long you half expected the odd one to land somewhere in 2019.

One of those colossal clatters almost spawned a hole-in-one on the 433-yard par-four 12th. It reared up a couple of rolls shy and if it had dropped, Johnson would have become only the second player in PGA Tour history, after Andrew McGee in the 2001 Phoenix Open, to make an ace on anything other than a par-three. “I hit it a little thin,” Johnson said with a wry grin.

Loading article content

Johnson’s latest success, the 17th of his PGA Tour career, continued a fine record which has led to the current world No 1 winning at least once every year since 2008. “That is big for me,” said Johnson of that particular statistic which was bolstered in 2017 by a four-win campaign. “I’m very proud of being able to do that. It’s not easy to win out here. Any given week, anybody in the tournament can win it. It’s not like a lot of these other sports where the guy at No 125 is never going to beat the guy at No 1. A lot of seasons I’ve had only one win, but last year was the most in one year and hopefully I can do even better than that this year.”

Johnson’s Hawaiian procession provided a timely redemption for the 33-year-old. The last time he was leading heading into the final day of a tournament was in the WGC HSBC Champions in China at the tail end of 2017. Johnson led by six shots there after 54-holes but ballooned to a closing 77 and allowed Justin Rose to come hurtling up on the rails and steal the bounty.

“I didn’t want to let up on the back nine, especially after what had happened in Shanghai, I didn’t want that to happen again,” added Johnson, who led by only a couple of shots with 18-holes to play in Hawaii.

“I just didn’t do anything very good in China and I ended up losing. So I definitely came out (on the final day in Hawaii) with a lot of focus. I didn’t want it to have to come down to the last couple holes. After what happened in Shanghai, I wanted to make sure that kind of thing ain’t going to happen again.”

Johnson, with the kind of laid back air of a jazz quartet meandering through a few smoky, late night arrangements, is not one for resting on the laurels of triumph or dwelling on the failures of the past.

“It really doesn’t matter what you did yesterday,” added Johnson, who has endured his fair share of major championship mishaps down the seasons but has nonchalantly shrugged them off.

“This game, it changes very, very easily. So, for me, it’s just all about pushing forward.”

Asked if one of the greatest strengths in golf is a short memory, he jokingly said: “I would imagine, I don’t know … I can’t remember.”