Nearly lost in the choppy wake of Dustin Johnson's summer of major-championship discontent was a revelation on the 17th hole on Sunday at the BMW Championship--four days after these photos were taken. Smarting from the bunker ruling that dropped him out of the playoff for the PGA Championship and crispy from playing five tournaments in six weeks, Johnson nevertheless stood on the 17th tee tied for the lead with Paul Casey. He scorched a high fade on the 427-yard, dogleg-right par 4, leaving 94 yards to the flag. Then he nestled a 54-degree wedge two feet from the cup to set up the birdie that would ultimately win him the tournament.
The trophy and check were nice, but it was the style of execution that moved Butch Harmon--Johnson's coach since last May--to call the freakishly talented South Carolinian one of the best players in the world. When Harmon entered the picture, Johnson tended to over-rotate his hips on the backswing and dive his right shoulder into the ball on the downswing. These flaws, when mixed with a bowed left wrist at the top and the resulting shut clubface, produced misses to the left and sketchy distance control on short irons.
Cue the perfect fade off the tee and feathered wedge shot.
"My thought for him is to stay taller and extend down the target line," Harmon says. "I tell him to feel like an ostrich, with his neck stretched up at address. It's a great thought for the amateur player as well: Stay tall, and extend down the line."