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Cruise Control
ALAN SHIPNUCK
April 04, 2011
Despite a couple of major mishaps that might've capsized a lesser player's career, Dustin Johnson motors on, content to let the game come to him. Which raises the question: Does the old rule that says success comes only through hard work not apply to the most athletic golfer the PGA Tour has ever seen?
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April 04, 2011

Cruise Control

Despite a couple of major mishaps that might've capsized a lesser player's career, Dustin Johnson motors on, content to let the game come to him. Which raises the question: Does the old rule that says success comes only through hard work not apply to the most athletic golfer the PGA Tour has ever seen?

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"On the 2nd hole I blew it about 50 yards by him," says Johnson. "He wasn't happy about that. I was 5 up at the turn. I think that got Phil's attention."

"Well, it was winter time and I hadn't been playing much," says Mickelson. "I think he's failing to mention that I gave him a pretty good spanking on the back nine."

"It's been on ever since then," says Johnson.

They have a standing Tuesday game at most big-time tournaments. A particularly epic tussle went down at the Players a few years ago. Johnson was 1 up when Mickelson made a 30-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole. Johnson topped him with a 15-footer. At the par-5 16th Mickelson jarred a big-breaking 50-footer for eagle. "Of course he's talking s---," Johnson says. "That's what Phil does." He then banged in his own 25-foot eagle putt to halve the hole. "You should have seen his face!" Johnson says. "You know how it's a long walk to 17 tee? Oh, man, Phil was chirping the whole way."

On the 18th hole Johnson drove into the trees but pulled off a "crazy-ass" recovery to save par and close out the match.

What were the stakes?

"A dollar."

He managed to stifle a laugh for almost two seconds.

"What I love about Dustin," says Mickelson, "is that he's fearless on the golf course. He never backs down from a challenge."

This pedal-to-the-metal ethos has turned Mickelson into the current king of Augusta, with three Masters victories in the last seven years. Harmon, who coaches both bombers, is encouraging Johnson to follow Mickelson's blueprint. "The plan is to turn Dustin loose and let him go after it," says Harmon. "Augusta is a not a place where you can play conservatively."

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