Dustin Johnson became the world’s No. 1 ranked golfer earlier in 2017, and he can tell you precisely when he knew it was possible.
Hint: it has to do with Tiger Woods.
Question to DJ: "When did you believe that you could be the best player, be No. 1?"
DJ: "When Tiger stopped playing."
— Will Gray (@WillGrayGC) April 4, 2017
That goes to show what kind of a shadow Tiger still has over the game of golf.
He last earned the No. 1 ranking in 2013, carrying into 2014. Even that was a major revival following a series of injuries and scandals in his personal life that became public knowledge. Since Tiger last held the coveted ranking, the top spot has been held by the likes of Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, and Jordan Spieth, all of whom are younger than Johnson.
But Johnson obviously didn’t think overtaking them would be the issue. It’s understandable.
Tiger has been the world No. 1 a record 11 times. His record of 281 straight weeks as the No. 1 in the world occurred between 2005-2010, right as Johnson was rising to prominence. Woods has also been the No.1 ranked player for a total of 683 weeks, more than twice the total of the next highest player (Greg Norman, 331). It’s easy to see why DJ viewed Tiger as the gold standard, even if he hasn’t been in a while.
Johnson couldn’t enter the 2017 Masters much hotter. He’s not only the top ranked golfer in the world but he’s also won all three of his most recent tournaments.