It’s hard not to look at Dustin Johnson, the top golfer in the world, and not think he won’t win The Players Championship this weekend at Sawgrass Country Club. Johnson is among a handful of players who many considered favorites. Furthermore, he thinks he has just a good a chance as anyone in the field to take the title.
“I think the golf course is great. It’s in the best shape I’ve ever seen it. The greens are perfect, fairways are perfect. You know, the few changes they made I think are really good. You know, 12 obviously is a lot different, but I like the fact that it gives you more options than before. The old No. 12 you just kind of — everyone had to lay up to a certain spot and you’d kind of wedge it on the green. Now you’ve got some options. You can think about if you want to go for it or if you want to lay it up, so I thought that’s really good changes,” Johnson told the media on Wednesday.
“Around the greens added a little bit more fairway in some spots around the greens. I thought all the changes looked great, and then obviously 6 and 7, just the holes didn’t change any, just visually they’re — it’s a lot prettier.”
Being the No. 1 player in the world does have its pressures. The other competitors in the field are obviously looking to take something that he has. Nevertheless, when asked whether he could win here, Johnson said he has focus and determination. He also wants to let everyone know The Players Championship is a tournament Dustin Johnson wants to win.
“I believe so [win here in Ponte Vedra, Florida]. I feel like I’m playing really well right now. Obviously, it’s going to take four really good rounds if I want to be there on Sunday. But I feel like I’m starting to play this golf course a little bit better. Last year I felt like — I was close. Obviously, Jason [Day], he played really well here last year, so he was tough to beat.
“But this golf course is tough. You’ve got to have all facets of your game working if you want to contend around here. You’ve got to be doing everything well because you’ve got to hit all kinds of different shots, every club in your bag, and you’ve got to really control your golf ball.”
Geoff Shackelford of golfweek.com writes the changes everyone is talking about is centered on The Players Championship and the 12th hole.
“It’s the noticeable increase in shorter grass heights and an overall refined look to many of the holes that make a fan-friendly venue even more enjoyable. While this shift will upset some who want [Course designer Pete] Dye’s vision upheld, The Players has struggled with identities far too long and fans should notice a refreshed vibe this week,” he said.
While the golfers who have walked into Media Center of The Players Championship have all be complimentary, it could still impact the next four days here in North Florida. Dustin Johnson said he thinks he will be ready come Thursday.
“I feel like the game is in really good shape, and getting a lot more confidence, especially after last week. I played a lot better on the weekend. I’ve had a couple good practice days the last two days, so I’m excited to get the tournament started tomorrow.”
The 2016 PGA Player of the Year has a US Open Title to his credit. Winning here would further solidify his stronghold on the world’s top ranking in this sport. He said better play will be key to winning this tournament.
“I think my game as a whole has gotten a lot better. You know, so I’m interested to see how I can play here this week. But it’s definitely a new challenge. I haven’t had a lot of success around here, so it’s definitely a challenge for me. But I feel like if I’m going to play well here, this is the time that I will play well because I feel like the game — everything throughout my whole game is in really good form right now,” he said.