A general look at golf’s history in the Coachella Valley
When Dustin Johnson won the RBC Canadian Open over the weekend, he moved to within one win of an important threshold in his PGA Tour career.
The victory was the 34-year-old Johnson’s 19th win on the PGA Tour, tied for 38th on the all-time tour victory list with names like Tom Kite, Ernie Els and Ben Crenshaw, among others. He’s also one win away from lifetime membership on the tour, an exempt category that isn’t quite as important as you might think.
All of which begs a few questions: If Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are already all-time greats but past their primes, is Johnson now the player in the game who can join the all-time greats? And if not Johnson, then who among the current crop can be one of the best ever?
Some say that the players today can’t match Jack Nicklaus or Ben Hogan or Arnold Palmer or Woods for accomplishments or charisma or their ability to bring non-fans or casual fans deeper into the game. Charisma aside, what can today’s crop of top players do to challenge the game’s greats?
Here’s a look at what some of the top players who could be all-time greats have already done:
Dustin Johnson: Johnson is older than many of the other players on this list, but he has more PGA Tour wins at 19. The knock against Johnson at this point is not his game, either his power off the tee or his short game. It is the fact that in 19 wins he has just the one major title, the 2016 U.S. Open. Of the 37 players who have won more PGA Tour titles, four have no majors and six have just one major. Add two more majors and it will be tough to argue against Johnson.
Rory McIlroy: With four majors and 14 PGA Tour wins. McIlroy is considered by many to have the best chance at some day being listed as an all-time great. And remember that McIlroy has nine other European Tour victories aside from the majors, which count as wins on both tours. But McIlroy hasn’t won a major in four years, and his pursuit of the career Grand Slam with a Masters win hasn’t come to fruition yet. But he won’t be 30 until next May. Getting to 20 wins in the United States will help.
Jordan Spieth: Eleven PGA Tour wins and three majors at the age of 25 is a remarkable accomplishment that puts Spieth’s name in the same class as other young phenoms like Woods and Nicklaus. But it has now been one year since his last victory at the 2017 British Open. One year certainly isn’t anything to be concerned with, since McIlroy has had winless years and rebounded with big seasons. If Spieth does in the next five years what he has done in the last five years, he’ll be among the all-time greatest.
Jason Day: Now 30, Day was almost golf’s forgotten man in 2017 when he went winless just two years after winning his only major championship. But Day has fired back in 2018 with two wins. That gives him 12 for his career on the PGA Tour along with the one major at the PGA Championship. All of that puts him behind players like McIlroy and Spieth in terms of age or wins, but he’s still a talented player who could get to 20 wins down the road.
Bubba Watson: A two-time Masters winner with 12 victories on the tour, Watson’s achievements are up there with McIlroy, Spieth and Day. But he’s also already 39 years old. That doesn’t leave much time for his to add to his resume. Yes, there will be more wins and maybe another major, but can he reach even the 20 wins that seem so certain for Johnson?
Larry Bohannan is the Desert Sun golf writer. He can be reached at (760) 778-4633 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter at @Larry_Bohannan.