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January 16, 2013

Johnson's driver, forward thinking among his strengths

In a conversation with Golfweek’s Jim McCabe following Dustin Johnson’s win in the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Johnson’s instructor Butch Harmon gave his impression of Johnson’s game off the tee.

Harmon said he wants Johnson to take a John Daly-like grip-it-and-rip-it philosophy with his driver.

McCabe wrote:

“When he hits driver, he’s got to rip it,” Harmon said. “That’s what I said to him, ‘Let it fly. That’s when you play your best.’"

Johnson agreed with Harmon.

“He’s right. The bad drives at 9 and 13? I get in trouble when I just try to steer it out there. I can hit ‘chip’ shots with other clubs, but not the driver,” Johnson said.

Harmon said he’ll continue to encourage Johnson to play aggressively off the tee. “He has the most confidence in the driver and he hits it fine, but he’s got to rip it,” Harmon said. “I would never take that club away from him.”

The bad drive on the ninth led to a bogey and double bogey that nearly cost Johnson his lead. But he responded with pars on 10 and 11 and a birdie on the 12th. A double bogey on the 13th was followed by an eagle on the par-4 14th where Johnson ripped a drive and chipped in from 50 feet.

Johnson has shown the ability to quickly put tough losses behind him, bouncing back from tough defeats at the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship with strong performances and wins shortly thereafter. And as he did at the Hyundai, Johnson has shown the ability to quickly put bad holes behind him.

“He has a tremendous ability, just like Tiger Woods, that the last shot never happened,” Harmon told McCabe. “He lets it go. That was always a strength of Woods’. You can’t teach that.”

Harmon told McCabe he expects big things from Johnson this year. “He has a great game plan [for 2013],” Harmon said. “I think he’s going to win a lot.”



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