Coming off a successful TOUR Championship weekend that saw a third-place finish and a return atop the Official World Golf Rankings, Dustin Johnson capped an eventful close to his 2017-2018 PGA TOUR season with a trip across the pond to represent Team USA in his fourth Ryder Cup this past weekend.
The 2018 event at Le Golf National in France began with great hope as Dustin, teaming with Rickie Fowler, helped Team USA jump out to a quick lead Friday by earning one of the defending champion’s three points to start the day. Dustin and Rickie combined for four birdies on the back nine, including the final one on 16 to clinch their Friday morning Fourballs match with a resounding 4 & 2 victory over Thorbjørn Oleson and Rory McIlroy.
From there, though, it was all Team Europe the rest of the way.
The Dustin/Rickie pairing that started so strong was then victimized twice along the way, dropping the Friday afternoon Foursomes match 3 & 2 to Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, who broke away to win five of seven holes after the first four holes ended with the pairings all square. The American pairing would meet the same scoring fate in Saturday morning Fourballs, falling 3 & 2 to Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton as the Euros surged to a 3-up lead on the front nine that proved too much to overcome.
Team USA switched it up for Saturday afternoon Foursomes, teaming Dustin with 2018 U.S. Open and PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka in a monster pairing that nevertheless succumbed to Team Europe’s continuing surge. The Dustin/Brooks tandem dropped their match 2 & 1 to the Rose/Stenson pairing in a spirited match that went back and forth until Team Europe closed it out by winning the 17th Hole.
Sunday Singles saw Dustin face a tall task going up against European Ryder cup juggernaut Ian Poulter. Dustin fought to square the match on the front nine with birdies on five and six and then drained a 60-foot birdie putt on 11 to take a 1-up lead, only to see Poulter win three of the last five holes with birdies – including a 3 on the par-4 18th to close out the match with a 2-up victory.
Unfortunately, Dustin was hardly alone in his Ryder Cup struggles at Le Golf National. Team USA would ultimately fall victim to a buzz saw effort from Team Europe, which bounced back from its Friday morning defeat to capture 16 ½ of the remaining 24 points up for grabs and reclaim the Ryder Cup on their home turf.
The 2018 competition marked the first time in his four Ryder Cup appearances that Dustin was asked to compete in all five sessions – a testament to just how well he played both throughout the year and at year’s end, giving team captain Jim Furyk a clear choice in leaning so heavily on the world’s top-ranked player.
What’s Next: Some much-needed and well-earned rest, before Dustin kicks off his 2018-2019 PGA TOUR season at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions Oct. 25-28 in Shanghai. Dustin hopes to follow last year’s second-place finish at the HSBC Champions with his second victory in Shanghai, where he first won this event in 2014.