Charles Perrin assesses Dustin Johnson's form and looks for clues that suggest he can tackle the monster Bethpage Black course...
"Johnson is priced at 11.5021/2 to lift the USPGA Championship."
Dustin Johnson only has a few weeks to rectify things ahead of the USPGA Championship. After a spectacular collapse on the final day of the RBC Heritage on Sunday, where DJ's 77 was the joint second worst in the field, question marks will be raised about the world No 1 heading into the second major of the year.
Johnson is widely regarded as one of the most mentally resilient players on the PGA Tour, but will his meltdown at Hilton Head prove to be just a blip?
Prior to his shocking slump at the RBC Heritage, Johnson was close to recapturing the form of a couple of years ago when he was fancied to claim the Masters before a freak injury ruined his plans of claiming a green jacket. The American has already landed one title in 2019 - the World Golf Championship in Mexico - and he has six top 10 finishes to his name.
He is normally a good frontrunner and he has an excellent conversion rate when holding a 54-hole lead. The back nine at the RBC Heritage will have been particularly frustrating as he lost seven strokes across five holes and the 20-time PGA Tour champion was wayward from the tee.
Mental aberrations have been few and far between for Johnson and normally he is unflappable in high pressure situations. When you factor in that the last 54-hole leader to close out the RBC Heritage was Carl Pettersson when he won by five strokes in 2012, getting over the finishing line can be tough regardless of who you are. The Betfair market retains confidence in DJ and he is priced at 12.011/1 to lift the USPGA Championship.
Beware of Brooks
There will be no shortage of contenders at Bethpage Black. Tiger Woods - winner of the Masters earlier this month - is targeting a 16th Major title and heads the betting at 10.5019/2. Woods will have fond memories of the course where he lifted the US Open title back in 2002.
And the course looks tailor made for Brooks Koepka who goes into the USPGA Championship as the defending champion. Despite his imposing frame, Koepka can combine power play with deft touches in and around the greens.
Looking away from Koepka, Johnson will have to fend off challenges from the Major-less crop of players in the field. Tommy Fleetwood has been in fabulous form while Rickie Fowler has had a couple of near misses and both look primed to put in their usual high-class efforts as they strive for a maiden Major. Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy - who was rather subdued at Augusta - will be among the likely suspects, while Jon Rahm 23.0022/1 and Justin Thomas 20.0019/1 can't be discounted.
Taming Bethpage Black
Accuracy and length of the tee will be key at Bethpage Black and that is something that Johnson has in abundance. The course which stands at 7,436 yards, is one of the toughest in the United States. The world No 1 can rip it off the tee, but patience is something he will need. Bethpage Black is unlikely to be a birdie fest and the course is laden with danger. The par five fourth, for example, climbs 50 feet towards a blind green and if you miss the fairway, you face a gruelling challenge of trying to get out of very thick rough.
With many bunkers in play, the course is laden with danger and Johnson will have to use his tactical nous to tame Bethpage Black. However, he will take comfort from some of his stats. He is third in the PGA rankings for sand saves this year, while he is second when it comes to scoring averages. Johnson can play some par fives as if they are par fours, and as long as he doesn't take too many risks and eliminates the silly errors that can sometimes plague him, he could justify that prominent position in the betting and claim the second major of his career.