Can DJ break out of slump at Travelers?

Heading into last year’s Travelers Championship, Dustin Johnson hadn’t won since the 2019 World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship, a span of 14 winless starts that included just two top-10s.

He took care of that slump with rounds of 69-64-61-67 to win his 21st PGA Tour title and ignite a year-end blitz in which he won three more times, including the 2020 Masters in November.

Heading into Thursday’s start of the Travelers Championship, Johnson hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since leaving Augusta National, a span of 11 starts that has included, yes, just two top-10s.

Will this be another slump busting week at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut?

“Since January I haven’t played as well as I would have liked to, but I feel like the game is starting to come around at the right time,” Johnson said Wednesday. “The game is in pretty good form and I’m pleased with where it is right now.

“Obviously, I will continue to work on it and try to get better throughout all aspects of the game. For me it’s always going to be putting. When I putt well, I play well. It’s pretty simple. I’m seeing a lot of consistency with it, but just if I could get just a little bit better, I would be right up at the top every week.”

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Johnson got into contention early in last Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego before fading into a tie for 19th. On Monday, he fell to No. 2 in the world as U.S. Open victor Jon Rahm took over the top spot.

Johnson had been the world No. 1 since his win in the 2020 Northern Trust and has been the game’s best for 134 weeks in his career; he is one of only four players to be No. 1 for more than 100 weeks, the others Tiger Woods (683), Greg Norman (331) and Rory McIlroy (106).

“No, it doesn’t,” Johnson said when asked if he was bothered about losing his No. 1 rank. “Obviously, I had been there for a while. Just my play as of late hasn’t been good enough to hold that position.

“A good week this week I think I could get right back there.”

He’s already had a good week – he turned 37 on Tuesday. Johnson said he didn’t do anything crazy celebration-wise and instead spent time with his two sons, worked out, spent time at a Travelers outing and had a quiet dinner at his rental house with family and friends.

Now his mind is on tackling TPC River Highlands and ending a slump with PGA Tour title No. 25.

“Last year was great,” he said. “I played really well and got my first victory here. It’s a course that I enjoy playing. Obviously, it’s another one where if you can get it going you can shoot some low scores here.

“But you have to play well. Like, if you’re just a little bit off, the golf course is really difficult. There is a lot of slope. I’m looking forward to a really good week. I feel like the game is in pretty good form and it’s getting better, so pleased with that.”