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Johnson sets tone for US’ young Ryder Cup victors

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Kohler—Dustin Johnson led by example at Whistling Straits this week, becoming just the fifth player in Ryder Cup history to win five of five matches as he spearheaded America’s sensational 19-9 victory over Europe.

Dustin Johnson of team United States reacts as he walks off the on the 15th green during Sunday Singles Matches of the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin. AFP

The oldest player on a new-look squad that had an average age of 29.4, Johnson was the only American to play five matches.

With his 1-up win over Paul Casey the world number two became the first American since Larry Nelson in 1979 to win in every session.

The only others to accomplish the feat were Americans Arnold Palmer and Gardner Dickinson in 1967 and Italy’s Francesco Molinari for Europe in 2018.

In characteristic fashion, two-time major winner downplayed the accomplishment, but his youthful teammates were less reticent.

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“That’s 5-0, ladies and gentlemen, 5-0,” Collin Morikawa crowed with a nod to the two-time major winner.

“I had good partners though,” said Johnson—who teamed with Morikawa to win two foursomes matches and a four-balls and won another four-balls match with Xander Schauffele.

Johnson capped the run with his narrow victory over Casey—who had already lost to the American three times in the first two days.

Their singles match was a close affair, the first five holes tied before Johnson rolled in a tricky 11-foot birdie putt at the sixth to go 1-up.

The lead didn’t last long, as Casey won the par-3 seventh with a par as Johnson failed to reach the green.

Johnson was back on top with a birdie at the eighth and went 2-up with a four-foot birdie at the 10th.

He wouldn’t trail again, Casey able to take him to the final hole but unable to capture a first point of the week.

“You know, starting the week, if you had told me I was going to go 5-0-0, I probably would have said you were crazy,” Johnson said. “I didn’t think I was going to play five matches.

“Obviously, got off to a good start and had some good partnerships there with Collin and Xander, so captain just kept us rolling.

“I felt like the game was coming together,” added Johnson. “Ryder Cup is always a fun week. “It’s so much fun for us to come out and play golf like this just because we don’t usually do it.”

The victory gave Johnson something to celebrate on a Whistling Straits course where he suffered bitter disappointment in the final round of the 2010 US PGA Championship. AFP

Johnson held a one-shot lead entering the final hole. He appeared to have bogeyed the hole to fall into a three-way playoff with Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer, but he received a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a bunker and finished tied for fifth.

The week also helped expunge the memory of Le Golf National in Paris, where Johnson — then number one in the world — went 1-4-0 in the United States’ 2018 Ryder Cup loss to Europe.

“It’s obviously a lot more fun when you win,” Johnson said.

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