Golf

Dustin Johnson back on a team after 2-year absence

Dustin Johnson tees off on the third hole during the second round of the Tour Championship golf tournament at East Lake Club Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Dustin Johnson tees off on the third hole during the second round of the Tour Championship golf tournament at East Lake Club Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis) AP

INCHEON, South Korea -- Dustin Johnson hasn't lost a match while playing for the United States in nearly four years.

Part of that is because he's very good.

Any discussion about American talent in golf would have to include the 31-year-old Johnson, who has won in every PGA Tour season since he was a rookie in 2008 fresh out of Coastal Carolina. He has chased majors, falling short either by bad luck (Chambers Bay), a bad shot (Royal St. George's), bad golf (Pebble Beach) or a bad setup (bunkers at Whistling Straits).

But there's another reason that Johnson hasn't lost a match in so long. He hasn't played a team event since the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah.

Johnson was left off the Presidents Cup team two years ago when he finished 12th in the U.S. standings, and captain Fred Couples passed over Johnson and Jim Furyk in favor of 20-year-old rookie Jordan Spieth.

"I was pretty (upset) I didn't get picked," Johnson said with a laugh. "Why you got to bring that up?"

And then last year involved extenuating, if not mysterious, circumstances. He easily would have qualified for the team except for taking an indefinite leave from golf to seek professional help from what he described only as "personal challenges."

Even so, the record shows that Charl Schwartzel is the last player to beat him, in Sunday singles at Royal Melbourne in 2011. Johnson went 3-0 at Medinah the following year, one of only three Americans to win a singles match in Europe's record-tying comeback.

"Even though it's been a little bit, it didn't feel like it's been that long," Johnson said. "It's the same guys, kind of the same team."

Not really.

Only six American players are at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea who were on the last team that included Johnson. Even last year, three players who had been considered regulars for the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup didn't make the team.

Zach Johnson was stunned to hear that Dustin Johnson hasn't played in these team events in three years, until he gave it some more thought.

"It's surprising to a degree," he said. "It's just an illustration of how deep and how good the PGA Tour is."

Hunter Mahan was in seven of the last eight team competitions -- he only missed Medinah in 2012 -- and wasn't even part of the conversation this year. Mahan struggled with a growing family and his game and missed the Tour Championship for the first time since the FedEx Cup began in 2007. He ended last year at No. 22 in the world, and now is struggling to stay in the top 50.

Keegan Bradley made an auspicious Ryder Cup debut in 2012 with Phil Mickelson, played on the next two teams and is fading from view.

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