MAUI: Dustin Johnson will play his first individual event in four months at the Sentry Tournament of Champions starting in Hawaii on Thursday, eager to add to his career victory tally before time starts to run out.
At age 35 and heading for his 13th season on the US-based circuit, Johnson has a healthy 20 PGA Tour wins, but thinks he should have about double that number under his belt by now.
His consistency is admirable – 96 top-10 finishes in 261 starts – but a frustrating number of near-misses, particularly in the Majors, has left him wanting more.
“I know what I’m capable of and I know what it takes to win out here,” the former world No 1 ranked player said on Wednesday.
“For me a successful year would be winning three or four times and competing in all the Majors, putting myself in positions to win every week.”
The American will have a better than normal chance to get to 21 this week in the absence of Brooks Koepka, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who are all taking the week off.
Koepka is still rehabbing a knee injury, Woods is enjoying a breather after captaining the American Presidents Cup team three weeks ago, while McIlroy is also resting up after a busy late-year schedule on the European Tour.
Johnson will put his body and mind to the test as part of a field of 34 at an event restricted to winners on the PGA Tour over the past year.
The Kapalua Plantation course on Maui has previously been a pushover in calm weather, as witnessed by Ernie Els’ 31-under 261 total in 2003, a score Jordan Spieth came within a shot of matching three years ago.
Re-grassed since last year as part of an overall facelift that included lengthening several holes, the course should present a tougher challenge this time, with forecast stiff winds adding another wrinkle to the mix.
Johnson had what he described as “routine” surgery in early September to repair left knee cartilage damage.
He had been scheduled to return at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas four weeks ago, but instead made his comeback the following week at the Presidents Cup in Australia.
He posted a reasonable record of two wins and two losses at Royal Melbourne as part of the narrowly triumphant American team.
Johnson, currently ranked fifth in the world, was No 1 as recently as last March.
The 2016 US Open remains his lone Major triumph.