Dustin Johnson heads into Sunday at the PGA Championship holding both the 54-hole lead and an opportunity to exorcise some of his major championship demons. The former world No. 1 is looking to add TPC Harding Park to Oakmont on his list of major victories Sunday, clinging to a slim lead over the likes of Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Cameron Champ and Xander Schauffele.
With DJ seeking career major No. 2 at age 36, the natural inclination of those around the game is to pontificate his legacy. A win would put him on par with names like Ben Crenshaw, John Daly and Johnny Miller. But with the fifth-longest tenure at world No. 1 in OWGR history and 30 professional wins, majors don’t tell the full story.
In Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee’s eyes, Johnson’s career draws a sharp comparison to another golfer heavy on talent but light on majors — Greg Norman.
“That’s more analogous to Greg Norman,” Chamblee said on Live From Saturday night. “You look at Dustin Johnson and it’s sort of a Greg Norman type of talent, but then there’s cracks in the foundation.”
The Shark’s pair of Open Championship victories place him in rarefied air among professional golfers, but his seven second-place finishes in the other three majors land him as one of golf’s great historical what if’s.
“The fact that Greg Norman only won two major championships speaks to the dichotomy that was Greg Norman, dominance and fragility,” Chamblee said. “And that’s what you see in Dustin Johnson.”
Dominance and fragility — a theme that Chamblee says was evident nowhere more than at the 2015 Open Championship.
“Go back to 2015, and I’ll tell you what, St. Andrew’s fit [Johnson] like a Savile Rose suit,” Chamblee said. “Everyone picked him. He had the 36-hole lead, not a chance he doesn’t close the deal, and he hangs up a 150 on the weekend.”
Whether that storyline will once again make itself evident on Sunday on the banks of Lake Merced remains to be seen. But either way, in Chamblee’s eyes, Johnson and Norman share a unique bond (for better or worse).
“He clearly knows how to close the lead, he clearly has the talent to win multiple tournaments and multiple major championships, but didn’t Greg Norman have the talent to win 8, 9, 10 major championships?” he asked. “There’s a fragility there that keeps popping up at the worst of times and rearing its ugly head.”