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Dustin Johnson thinks he should have more PGA Tour wins… a lot more

January 2, 2020

Perennially ranked among the top golfers in the world, Dustin Johnson is easily the winningest golfer of his generation. In fact, the only player who comes close is Rory McIlroy. But if you ask him, DJ thinks he should have entered the winner’s circle a whole lot more frequently in his 12-plus years on Tour.

Johnson is making his first start of the PGA Tour season this week at the Tournament of Champions, more than three months since the season began. He spent the first several weeks on the sidelines while recovering from arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage damage in his left knee before making his return to competition at the Presidents Cup in December.

The injury clearly affected his performance on the course in the second half of 2019, but he still picked up one victory last season and pushed his career win total to 20.

At his pre-tournament press conference Wednesday at the newly renovated Kapalua Plantation course, a reporter brought up his victory total, to which Johnson offered a surprising reaction. Johnson said it was “not that many considering how many tournaments I’ve played.”

“I mean, yeah, I’m proud that I have 20 wins out here because it’s very difficult to win,” Johnson continued, “but yeah, I definitely feel like I should have more.”

The statement was notable enough to entice several follow-up questions, including, exactly how many more wins does he think he should have? According to DJ, “probably about double.”

Dustin Johnson tees off during a practice round at the 2020 Tournament of Champions.
Dustin Johnson tees off during a practice round at the 2020 Tournament of Champions.
Getty Images

It’s a bold declaration on the surface, but not as much once you look into the statistics. Johnson’s 20 wins are two more than Rory McIlroy, and far more than anyone else in the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking not named Tiger Woods (who won his record-tying 82nd in October following his own arthroscopic surgery). World No. 4 Justin Thomas has 11 career victories. Justin Rose, who is 39 years old and is ranked No. 8, has 10 to his name. No. 1 Brooks Koepka has just seven.

When Johnson is healthy and playing well, he’s proven he can wrack up Ws in a hurry. In his Kapalua presser, Johnson revealed that he defines a successful season as one that finds him “winning three, four times and then competing in all the majors.” He matched those criteria in three consecutive seasons leading up to 2019, capturing three victories in 2018, four in 2017, and three in 2016 (including his one and only major at the U.S. Open at Oakmont).

He was on track to do the same last season when a hot start saw him win the WGC-Mexico Championship and the European Tour’s Saudi International in February before finishing runner-up at the first two majors of the year. Though he played through pain and made it all the way to the Tour Championship — where he finished T29 — the injury clearly diminished his chances of winning late in the year.

While he may wish he’d already achieved it, a career total of 40 wins is certainly possible for Johnson considering that he’s only 35 years old and very much in the heart of his prime. He could even give Phil Mickelson, who is 11 years his senior, a run before he’s done. Mickelson has collected 44 Tour wins over the years.

As for DJ, despite thinking that he could have captured twice the wins he has so far in his career, he’s far from disappointed by what he has accomplished, or surprised that he doesn’t have more Ws on his resume.

“I expect to win, yes, but I don’t take it for granted just because it’s so difficult to win out here,” Johnson said. “… Like I said, it’s very hard to win out here. But should I have won more? I mean, I think so. Or could I have? Yes, I believe so. But I’ve still got a few good years left in me.”

A fully healed Johnson recommences his quest for the winner’s circle at 4:40 p.m. ET on Thursday afternoon at the Tournament of Champions.

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