What Could Have BeenJune 15, 2019

U.S. Open 2019: Dustin Johnson spoils fantastic round of ball-striking, still lurks at Pebble Beach

Dustin Johnson lines up a putt on the third green during the second round of the 2019 U.S. Open.
Ezra ShawDustin Johnson lines up a putt on the third green during the second round of the 2019 U.S. Open.

PEBBLE BEACH — Woulda, coulda, shoulda. It's a pointless exercise we play with golfers, in particular, Dustin Johnson, whose litany of close calls in major championships has been well documented. And while Johnson still has a full weekend to either add to that list or even add to his total of major titles, his chances took a hit on Friday at the 2019 U.S. Open, because, well, woulda, coulda, shoulda.

"I gave myself a lot of opportunities," Johnson lamented to Fox Sports' Joel Klatt after.

Talk about an understatement.

Johnson's ball-striking during his second round at Pebble Beach was certainly impressive. Despite a pair of early bogeys on Nos. 3 and 4, from the sixth hole on, he had birdie attempts of inside of 15 feet on all but one hole. However, he only converted four of those chances. Most agonizing were misses from inside of six feet on 7, 11, and 15.

"I put myself in positions where I couldn't be aggressive with the putter," Johnson reasoned after signing for a disappointing 69 that left him at two under and seven shots behind 36-hole leader Gary Woodland.

Not surprisingly, Johnson led the field during the second round in strokes gained: approach, picking up 4.09 shots. He gave back 1.14 shots on the greens, which didn't place him near the bottom of the ranking because he actually rolled in three putts of over 10 feet, including a downhill 15-footer on 17 that caused the normally stoic player to flash an expression of relief. But moments later, he missed one final birdie attempt from nine feet to finish his round.

The good news for Johnson is that he ranks 14th in strokes gained: putting, so reverting to that form coupled with giving himself so many good looks is a lethal combination. But in the quest to capture major No. 2, he may have given the rest of the field too much of a head start.

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