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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, March 3, 2024

Teeing Off: Mashed potatoes

Sam-Nowicki_sm

For the 10th consecutive year, Dustin Johnson is a winner.DJ cruised to five-shot lead, but it was as large as eight at some moments during the final round and it was never close. DJ blew away Riviera as he won for the first time this season in Los Angeles at the Genesis Open.

The tournament had an interesting vibe this week with Thursday, Friday and Saturday all having some sort of weather delay, forcing 36 holes to be played on Sunday.

Young up-and-comer Wesley Bryan finished T4, six shots back of DJ, missing a second place finish when his birdie putt lipped out on his penultimate hole. I would recommend we all keep an eye on Wes as the ‘Florida Swing’ starts up and the March to Augusta formally begins.

Before the week started, Jason Day was vulnerable in his world ranking for the first time in months. Day had been sitting at No. 1 for nearly a year and with a few poor starts this year, it was possible that with a win by DJ (formerly No. 3) and a poor finish from Jason, he could unseat him. World No. 2, Rory McIlroy, was not in the field this week and is yet to make a start on the PGA Tour this season.We won’t be graced with his presence (rib injury) until the World Golf Championships in Mexico.

Other notable finishes this week were Thomas Pieters (second) and Ollie Schniederjans (T8). These two young stars are on my watch list as well. Pieters broke onto the mainstream world golf stage at the Ryder Cup this past year. The Belgian’s power, touch and 6’5” frame reminds many of a young Dustin Johnson.

Schniederjans, on the other hand, has yet to break through. The 23-year-old has won on the Web.com Tour, and had several PGA Tour starts as an amateur because of his stellar collegiate career at Georgia Tech. Keep an eye on Ollie this year, not just to see his game grow as he works to win for the first time with the big boys, but also to admire his beautiful flow, as the young man has turned down millions in endorsements because he refuses to wear a hat.

How will DJ fare the rest of the season? I’ve always thought he has enough power to wear down any major course, sans Augusta National. For whatever reason, DJ doesn’t seem comfortable with the Georgia Pines. The course is just too pure and perfect for him, as he isn’t able to separate himself enough from the rest of the field to overcome his shortcomings in his short game.

But with this early win and new No. 1 World Ranking, I anticipate DJ will carry a lot of confidence to this year’s U.S. Open at Erin Hills in Wisconsin. He will likely have a strong showing as he looks to defend his U.S. Open title at the massive course, measuring 7,823 yards. DJ’s game, power and precision off the tee is perfect for the traditional U.S. Open course set-up, so I expect him to win ‘Golf’s Toughest Test’ at least one more time in his career.