Dustin Johnson credited his support network for helping him to secure his first major championship at the US Open, a victory he described as “a huge monkey off my back”.
With a possible infringement hanging over his head and the prospect of another near-miss at a major championship during the final round, Johnson secured a three-shot victory at Oakmont.
The 31-year-old had come close to winning several major championships, including last year’s US Open at Chambers Bay, and this year the expectation for him was at an all-time high.
He began the final round four shots behind leader Shane Lowry, but a one-under-par 69 was enough for the American to lift the trophy and leapfrog Rory McIlroy into third place in the world rankings.
“I’ve been in this situation time and time again, so I know what to expect. I know how to handle myself. For me to finally get it done in a major, it’s a huge monkey off my back.
“I’ve worked so hard to get here. I’ve put myself in this position many times, and to get it done is definitely sweet.
“I had a lot of confidence in my game coming into this week. I’ve been driving it well. So coming into a golf course like this, especially where it’s a huge emphasis on driving, to come out and drive it like I did is an advantage. It’s probably one of my best weeks driving the ball.
“I couldn’t be more excited, more happy, and more proud of myself, especially with the things that happened last year at the US Open on the 18th hole, you know, to come back this year and to get it done, it’s definitely bitter sweet.”
Having three-putted from 12 feet on the final hole at last year’s US Open to lose the tournament to Jordan Spieth, Dustin had hoped for less drama this time around – but it was not to be.
He was informed on the 12th tee that he may incur a one-shot penalty for his ball moving on the 5th hole, despite an official agreeing at the time it was not an infringement of the rules.
The USGA told him footage would be reviewed on completion of the round to assess whether he was to be penalised. Despite hours of uncertainty, Johnson produced a solid display which included a 10-foot putt for par on the 16th.
“Watching the video, I still don’t think I caused the ball to move, but the USGA, they said I did. So with the rule – I don’t even understand the rule, but I got a penalty. That’s it.
“But at the end of the day, it’s ultimately up to the USGA to make the final decision, and just fortunately, it didn’t affect the outcome.”
Dustin credits the support system around him for becoming a stronger person and finally adding a major title to his collection.
“I’ve got a great support system with Paulina, my son Tatum, my family, my team that’s around me. So it’s been a great road. I’m definitely a stronger person coming out the other side.
“I felt like I’ve handled myself very well in the past in the majors, I just didn’t quite get over that hump. Today, I finally did.”
One of his closest allies is his brother Austin, who has been Johnson’s caddie for nearly three years.
“My brother being on the bag, he’s my best friend. So to have somebody you really enjoy being out there with you, it definitely makes things a lot better. To have my brother out there with me, it’s been awesome. It’s just getting better.”