OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. (AP) â A week in the Bahamas was just the break Dustin Johnson needed from driving fast and going nowhere.
But he nearly took a step back.
Johnson removed his right shoe and slowly peeled off his sock to reveal white gauze wrapped around his fourth toe. That would explain why he was walking so slowly in the early rounds at The Northern Trust, sometimes 30 yards behind the rest of the group.
He was in the ocean and felt a light scrape on his foot. Once he was out of the water, he discovered his toenail had been sheared off to the skin just above the cuticle.
“No idea how it happened,” Johnson said. “I didn’t want to say anything about it. I didn’t want it to sound like an excuse.”
Besides, it only hurt to walk.
The golf swing, finally, looked better than ever. And for the first time in five months, Johnson had something to show for it.
His playoff victory over Jordan Spieth was his fourth of the year, and it might have been the most important because it was the next one. In late March, he looked practically unbeatable. By August, he was nearly forgotten except for his name at No. 1 in the world ranking.
Spieth was going for his third victory in his last five starts, one that would have made him tough to overlook for PGA Tour player of the year. He had it won until Johnson rolled in an 18-foot par putt on the final hole in regulation, and then hit a rocket off the 18th tee that left him a lob wedge into the green that set up the winning birdie.
Who needed the victory more?
“He just won the British, right?” Johnson said. “So he’s been playing really well. After I was playing so well at the beginning of the year … yeah, I definitely…