“I just told him to try to dump it on 18 fairways and 18 greens and there’s no way he can lose,” Harmon told ESPN Radio before the round.
Johnson did just the opposite — posting an 82 — and tying Gil Morgan’s 1992 effort for the worst by a frontrunner on Sunday at the Open.
The dismal tone of Johnson’s Sunday was set early when he registered a triple bogey and double bogey on the second and third holes and was 5-over for the day through three.
Johnson’s second-hole tee-shot landed square in the center of the fairway, but he struggled to find the green and took seven shots to move on.
On the third hole, Johnson’s tee-shot flew astray. After failing to locate the ball within five minutes, Johnson was forced back to the tee for another try.
After that, it seemed Johnson’s fate was sealed.
"Judy, somebody needs to give Dustin Johnson a hug," ESPN Radio’s Sean McDonough said to Judy Rankin on the fifth hole.
The man who walked on the course leading the tournament at 6-under left it at 5-over in a tie for eighth — five shots back of winner Graeme McDowell.
Although the 25 year old just nabbed his PGA Tour Card with a 14th place-tie in 2007 qualifying school, he was in many ways the least likely candidate for a collapse. He finished 2009 ranked 15th on the money list and has earned two of his three career wins at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am.
At 6-foot-4, 190 lbs, Johnson loped comfortably around Pebble Beach through Saturday as if it was his home course, walloping the ball off the tee leading to birdie and eagle opportunities.
But on Sunday, looks of confidence were replaced by those of angst as he plummeted down the leaderboard.
Maybe the real story of Johnson’s collapse was of those who couldn’t capitalize on his errors: Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson.
As the established trio struggled to shoot a combined 8-over themselves, it came as a harsh reminder of how difficult it is to tame Pebble Beach on Sunday.
Despite the Sunday setback, Johnson, the young bomber will surely be back for more.
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