Green Reading

NBC golf analysts like Dustin Johnson’s chances in the British Open

Dustin Johnson holds the trophy after winning the U.S. Open on June 19.
Dustin Johnson holds the trophy after winning the U.S. Open on June 19. AP

Golf Channel and NBC Sports golf analysts David Duval, Brandel Chamblee and David Feherty gushed about Dustin Johnson and his chances to win the British Open next week at Royal Troon during a teleconference on Wednesday.

Here is what they had to say about the Coastal Carolina alumnus and reigning U.S. Open champion.

Q. Dustin Johnson has two straight wins, coming off a U.S. Open win, rallied at Bridgestone. Is this a guy who we're finally seeing the talent come through in his play? This goes to David Duval.

DAVID DUVAL: Well, Brandel and I and Frank have talked about it both on the air and off the air to great lengths. I've said on many occasions, and I don't think too many people disagree, I've thought for a year or two, a couple years, three years, that he's the most talented player there is in golf. He has that weapon that is just basically unbeatable, driving the golf ball, and as he's improved his wedges over, what is it, Brandel, five years, six years?

BRANDEL CHAMBLEE: Yeah, every year over the last six years.

DAVID DUVAL: That almost becomes, like I said, unbeatable. We've talked about it again a number of times. People want to say -- have wanted to say that he's not a very good putter, that putting is holding him back, but that's just ignoring the stats. He's actually one of the better putters on Tour. So you put all those things together and you see what's happening. I think that the sky's the limit for him right now in golf, and granted, Jason Day is incredible. Rory McIlroy, incredible, Jordan Spieth, incredible. But those three players have the one thing that Jordan lacks, and Jordan is by no means a short hitter, but those three guys just have absolutely dominant length. It's almost frightening. We did a segment during the U.S. Open about under the right circumstances, I thought Dustin Johnson could drive the first green. I wasn't kidding. And you look at where he drove it on Sunday, the golf course was not nearly as fast as they wanted, not nearly as firm, no wind, and he still got it within 80 yards, 90 yards of the green, and it had that downslope. That's just something that's just tough to beat. I think that now that he got out of his own way, if you will, and broke through and won the U.S. Open, under really trying circumstances over the last six holes, seven holes, I think we talked about that Sunday night if I'm not wrong, but it's hard to see him not being the favorite moving forward for the next multiple majors if not multiple years.

BRANDEL CHAMBLEE: Yeah, the last person to drive the ball this far and also be the best wedge player on the PGA TOUR was a fellow by the name of Tiger Woods. So it's a rare combination when you see somebody, and almost unfair when you're competing against him, see somebody have this kind of length and not control with their wedges. It was interesting to see him warm up this past Sunday at Bridgestone, he had TrackMan right behind him as he was hitting wedge shots, and he had that -- most of the time when you see people with TrackMan, you think about them working on their different swing elements and changes in their golf swing, but he had that behind him because he was dialing in his wedge numbers. Was this one 121, was this one 122, and to me that's the proper way to use that machine, certainly as you run into playing competitive golf. He wasn't working on anything in particular in his golf swing, he was just working on dialing in his numbers. He's capable of hitting it almost 400 yards off of the tee as straight as anybody -- I'd challenge anybody to find anybody that's driven the ball better than him over the last couple events, longer and straighter, and then that wedge game with a very good putter. People have criticized the mental mistakes that he's made in his run-up to his major championship win, and again, it's very hard to find anybody that didn't stumble on themselves on the way to winning major championships with the exception of Tiger and Jack. Pretty much everybody else at some point or another stumbled upon themselves in winning a major championship. But if you take that same criticism then of the things that he's done with the heat on him in major championships, then I think you have to go the other way, because who else could withstand the chaos this Sunday of the U.S. Open. Who else could have withstood that who hadn't been through what Dustin had been through at the PGA Championship on the last hole or on the back nine at Royal St. George's in 2011 or the back nine at the U.S. Open last year? Who else could have withstood that? It would have been really difficult to do, and it was certainly amazing to watch.

DAVID FEHERTY: Just to finish what Brandel was saying, I don't think Dustin Johnson's record reflects the kind of player that he is, and I'm not sure that it's all in his fault. It's just against the run of play, if you like, it's a miracle to me that he hasn't won more times. He's certainly played well enough, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if he wins two or three or four more times between now and the end of the season. It certainly wouldn't surprise me if he were to win the Open Championship or a PGA or to be an Olympic gold medalist. He is the most extraordinarily talented young man, and I think it's more because just the anomalies of the game. You're going to have a period where even if you're as good as he is, you're not going to win very often, and then maybe they'll all come in a cluster, and I think that might happen for Dustin.