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Dustin Johnson: Scars 'gone when I left California'

June 29, 2010

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. - If Dustin Johnson bears any emotional scars from his epic implosion during the final round of the U.S. Open, they are well hidden. At least that's the case when he's behind a microphone. We'll find out Thursday when he tees it up at the AT&T National whether the wounds reopen when he is swinging a golf club

When last we saw young Dustin, you'll remember, he was adding up 82 strokes after blowing a three-stroke lead Sunday at Pebble Beach. He took last week off, in part to enjoy his 26th birthday and in part to chill out. Thursday he'll be back at work, paired with Tiger Woods and Davis Love III in the opening round of the AT&T at Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia.

"It was gone when I left California," Johnson said about the possibility his collapse at the Open will follow him. "It was a tough day. Golfers have tough days. You just have to put it behind you. I still finished in the top 10. It's not like I had a terrible week or anything." Well, those are all the right words to say.

Johnson says his cell phone didn't stop buzzing in the days right after Pebble Beach, mostly from friends trying to comfort him. But he did get a call from someone who could relate to what Dustin must have been feeling.

"I got a call from Greg Norman," Johnson said. "He said golf is a learning process non-stop." Then, saying what perhaps didn't need to be said, Johnson added about Norman: "He's been in my situation a few times. As if we needed to be told that: See 1996 Masters. Six-stroke lead. 78 strokes.

Asked his regrets about the final round at Pebble Beach - the left-handed shot, the hurried shots or the missed two-footer on No. 2; the needlessly aggressive tee shots on No. 3 and 4 - Johnson said: "If anything, maybe I should have been a little more aggressive in my approach shot on 2." That was the shot that ended up in the rough that led to his triple-bogey 7, followed by a double bogey and a bogey.

Johnson will also get some encouraging words from Woods. "It happens," Tiger says he will tell Johnson when they play Thursday, pointing out that he played with Mike Weir when Weir shot 80 in the final round of the PGA Championship, and then went on to win a Masters.

"Just because it happened doesn't mean you can't win again," Woods says. "He has the talent to have the lead in the last round of the U.S. Open. You just have to pick yourself up and do it all over again."

That seems to be exactly the attitude Johnson is bringing into Aronimink this week. But it's also an attitude that's easier to have on a Tuesday than it is on a Thursday - or on a Sunday. That is just a matter of wait and see.

-- Ron Sirak