There are men’s and women’s majors and a popular new winner on the PGA Tour among AFP Sport’s golf talking points this week:
– Dustin rests for his defence –
Dustin Johnson seems to be in two minds how to best prepare to defend his Masters crown next week at Augusta.
The world number one made a late entry last Friday to this week’s Texas Open after a poor showing at last week’s WGC Match Play, only to pull out on Monday.
Maybe it is the short turnaround since slipping on the winner’s green jacket for the first time that has him befuddled.
Every other recipient has had a year to bask in the glory of being Masters champion, but not Johnson, thanks to the tournament being postponed from its traditional early April slot last year because of the Covid pandemic.
“I now plan to spend the week at home in preparation for next week’s Masters,” Johnson tweeted on Monday.
Johnson won with an all-time Augusta low score of 20-under par total last year but is now trying to avoid an altogether different Masters record.
If he doesn’t win on Sunday, April 11, his reign will have lasted just 21 weeks — the shortest in the tournament’s 87-year history.
– Park chases Pak –
Park In-bee’s seasonal debut last week saw her romp to victory at the Kia Classic, leaving her just four wins behind legend Pak Se-ri’s South Korean record of 25 LPGA Tour titles.
Park, who moved up to world number two as a result, will have a chance to edge one win closer to Pak at this week’s first women’s major of 2021, the ANA Inspiration.
But she revealed that if it wasn’t for the Olympics looming later this year she might have stayed at home.
Park won gold in Rio and is desperate to defend her medal in the delayed Tokyo Games in July.
“It was my first week back out in three months or so, and I played so good,” Park said.
“If there was no Olympics I don’t know, would I be here? It has been definitely good motivation for me.”
It’s a big contrast to men’s number one Johnson, whose motivation clearly lies elsewhere after already stating he will be skipping Tokyo.
– Hats off to Dahmen –
The ever-affable Joel Dahmen may not be a household name, but plenty were rooting for him as he won his maiden PGA Tour event at the Puntacana Resort and Club Championship, for he has been through the mill of life’s ups and downs.
He dropped out of college, battled testicular cancer at the age of 23 and spent years kicking around the lower reaches of the pro game on the PGA Canada and Web.com Tours, before finally reaching the US PGA Tour in 2016-17.
His website, JoelDahmen.com, greets you with the banner “Fun. Survivor. Golfer.” and now, at 33, Dahmen says credits his “life and death” experience for making him one of the most likeable characters in the game.
“If I didn’t have cancer, I’d be a washed-up driving range pro telling people how good I used to be,” he once said.
With a US PGA Tour title finally under his belt after 111 attempts and sales of his “#endcancer” signature bucket hats set to take off after his success in the Dominican Republic on Sunday, Dahmen can now let his golf do the talking.
– Leading world rankings –
Week beginning March 29, 2021
1. Dustin Johnson (USA) 11.26
2. Justin Thomas (USA) 9.26
3. Jon Rahm (ESP) 8.68
4. Collin Morikawa (USA) 7.47
5. Bryson DeChambeau (USA) 7.26
6. Xander Schauffele (USA) 6.81
7. Patrick Reed (USA) 6.21
8. Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) 6.00
9. Webb Simpson (USA) 5.94
10. Patrick Cantlay (USA) 5.84
17. Billy Horschel (USA) 4.44 (+17)
1. Ko Jin-young (KOR) 9.45
2. Park In-bee (KOR) 8.25 (+2)
3. Kim Sei-young (KOR) 7.61 (-1)
4. Nelly Korda (USA) 7.50 (-1)
5. Danielle Kang (USA) 6.47
6. Lexi Thompson (USA) 5.56 (+3)
7. Brooke Henderson (CAN) 5.54 (-1)
8. Nasa Hatoaka (JPN) 5.18 (-1)
9. Kim Hyo-joo (KOR) 5.15 (-1)
10 Minjee Lee (AUS) 5.07