For much of the late 1990s and early-mid 2000s, golf was headlined by the ‘Big Five’: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickleson, Vijah Singh, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, and between them they picked up 24 of 48 major championships between 1997 and 2008 – half of what was on offer.
In the decade or so since there has yet to really be a player or group of players that have established themselves as a cut above the rest. Major winners have been a who’s who of nomadic players with 19 of the last 37 major winners being one and done in that department (for now).
That being said, there’s an overwhelming feeling that a prodigious group of golfers are beginning to elevate themselves above the rest to become the new ‘Big Five’: Rory McIlroy, Jordan Speith, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson.
All bar Fowler have won at least one major in the last three years and spent time as the world’s number one ranked golfer but the belief is that the Oklahoma State alumni will one day achieve both in his career.
For now, it’s Dustin Johnson’s time to shine as the world’s top-ranked golfer, a title he’s held for four months, and after a period of time where he really wasn’t getting the rub of the green when he needed it, he’s finally been afforded the opportunity to assert his dominance amongst his peers.
Johnson finally broke his duck with the majors when he won the US Open last year, which really gave him the confidence that he didn’t previously have in his own game, that he could climb that mountain.
He’s maintained his form over the last 12 months, picking up five more tour wins including three World Golf Championship titles (becoming the first golfer to win all four) as well as the BMW Championship en route to becoming world number one.
While a freak back injury kept him out of the Masters earlier this year, Johnson enters the US Open as defending champion and the clear favourite, according to these US Open Futures from CrownBet.
With an unparalleled length off the tee and a sublime touch with his short irons and wedges inside 150 yards, Johnson will always be putting himself in the positions to pick up shots throughout the tournament and with the course next week being nearly 8,000 yards long, Johnson has a natural advantage.
You can’t put too much stock into practice rounds, but after missing the cut at the Memorial last week, Johnson flew out to Wisconsin and has already had a taster of what Erin Hills has to offer. Any extra preparation will always be beneficial.
No man since Curtis Strange in 1988-89 has successfully defended the US Open, but Johnson, playing the best golf of his career and preparing to walk onto a course crafted perfectly for his game, has the best chance of any to walk out as champion.