Red-hot Johnson seeking major repeat 28 days later


Dustin Johnson required 29 attempts to secure his maiden major title, but it would be no surprise if only 28 days separated his first and second triumphs.

A frequent challenger in golf's showpiece events since finishing tied for 10th in the 2009 US PGA Championship, Johnson finally broke his major duck at Oakmont last month - admirably shaking off confusion over a one-stroke penalty, which was only confirmed after his final round, to win the U.S. Open.

Prior to that success, three days before he turned 32, Johnson had come up agonisingly short on several occasions, to prompt suggestions he may never make it over the line in a major. 

Yet now, 12 months on from a dismal collapse in the 144th Open at St Andrews, a tournament he led after two rounds only to finish in a tie for 49th after back-to-back rounds of 75, the big-hitter from South Carolina returns to golf's oldest championship as many people's favourite to lift the Claret Jug.

Johnson certainly could not be in better form as he prepares to take on Royal Troon, having also won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in his only start since the U.S. Open.

Jordan Spieth, down to number three in the world rankings as a result of his compatriot's successive victories, is far from shocked by Johnson's rise.

Addressing the media at Troon on Tuesday, Spieth said: "For Dustin, I think it was just floodgates opening, which I've said for a long time now.

"It happened [at Oakmont], and it happened again [at Firestone]. So it's no surprise."

Although he fell away badly on the Old Course last year, Johnson has twice finished inside the top 10 at The Open, tying for second behind Darren Clarke at Sandwich in 2011.

And while he is older than the other members of the world's top four (Jason Day, Spieth and Rory McIlroy), Johnson can take plenty of encouragement from the career of Phil Mickelson as he targets further major glory.

Another man to have previously been burdened with the unwanted tag of 'the best player to never win a major', Mickelson was two months shy of his 34th birthday when he made a long-awaited breakthrough at Augusta, victory in the 2004 Masters representing a ninth top-three finish in a major for 'Lefty' and his 18th top-10 placing.

Mickelson now has five major titles to his name, a tally surpassed by only 12 players in the history of the game.

All of a sudden, the prospect of Johnson enjoying similar success appears increasingly realistic.