Dustin Johnson wasn’t taking any chances about missing his second major of the year.
After withdrawing from the Masters Tournament in April, Johnson’s status for this week’s U.S. Open was unknown as fiancée Paulina Gretzky was due to give birth to the couple’s second child. Gretzky is the daughter of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.
Gretzky had a Caesarean section on Monday, giving birth to a yet-to-be-named baby boy – the couple’s second son.
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Now the plan for the Irmo native is to head to Erin Hills in Erin, Wisc., site of the U.S. Open and where he will try to defend his title. The last player to win back-to-back U.S. Open’s was Curtis Strange in 1988 and 1989.
After winning last year’s U.S. Open, the first major championship of his career, Johnson was greeted on the 18th hole by Gretzky and his now 2-year-old son, Tatum. Since then, he’s been the best player in the world.
After playing for the victorious U.S. team in the Ryder Cup, Johnson has dominated in 2017. He won three events in a row heading into the Masters, the PGA Tour’s longest winning streak since Rory McIlroy also won three in a row in the 2014.
Johnson, the top-ranked player in the World Rankings and FedEx Cup standings, didn’t play in the Masters after suffering a deep bruise in his lower back the Wednesday before the opening round. The Coastal Carolina alum said he slipped on a few steps wearing socks in his rented home in Augusta.
Prior to the Masters, Johnson won the Dell Technologies Match Play, the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club and the WGC Mexico Championship.
Johnson’s ascent in the rankings has been steady, highlighted by winning the 2016 U.S. Open. In a decade-long PGA Tour career, Johnson has won at least one tournament every year since his rookie season.
Besides the U.S. Open, in 2016 Johnson won the WGC-Bridgestone (a World Golf Championship event) and the BMW Championship, part of the Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs. In total, he cashed checks for more than $9 million, best in professional golf, while leading the Tour in scoring average and top-10 finishes.
Johnson currently leads the PGA Tour in driving distance, greens in regulation percentage and money won – $6,355,725.
Johnson is scheduled to tee off for his opening round at the U.S. Open on Thursday at 8:35 a.m. Johnson will be part of a grouping that includes 2014 and 2015 U.S. Open champions Martin Kaymer and Jordan Spieth, the latter beating Johnson by a stroke on the 72nd hole.
Although Johnson hasn’t been in Wisconsin this week, he played two practice rounds at Erin Hills after missing the cut at the Memorial.
“He really liked the course and feels like it sets up beautifully for his game,” David Winkle, Johnson’s agent, said to Golfworld. “He feels good about the venue and the state of his game.”