FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (Reuters) – Dustin Johnson narrowly missed out on winning his second career major at the PGA Championship on Sunday but in doing so he joined some very select company by completing the career runner-up grand slam.
Johnson, who finished two shots behind Brooks Koepka at Bethpage Black, has now claimed a runner-up finish in each major after finishing second at last month’s Masters, the 2015 U.S. Open and 2011 British Open.
But despite the latest near-miss, the former U.S. Open winner walked away from the massive Bethpage Black layout, where he was the only person in the 156-player field, to break par in all four rounds.
“Obviously I knew starting seven back that it was going to be a big feat to catch Brooks,” Johnson, who will be replaced by Koepka as world number one, told reporters.
“You know, I definitely gave him a run, though, so I was happy with that.”
Johnson joins fine company with players like Louis Oosthuizen, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer also having claimed the second-place career grand slam.
The long-hitting American perhaps would not have joined the list of runner-up finishers had things gone differently for him on the 16th hole.
When Johnson arrived at the 490-yard, downhill par-four, he was two shots behind Koepka, who was playing two groups further back in the final pairing and moments away from making a fourth consecutive bogey.
Johnson, meanwhile, found the fairway then flew the green with a five-iron from 192 yards into the wind to leave himself with an incredibly difficult chip shot.
Johnson did well to get his ball to about seven feet but despite having made some big putts all day he missed the most important one of his final round and settled for a bogey to fall two shots back.
“I still don’t know how my ball went over the green there. Obviously not a spot where you can go, but hit a great chip and a good putt, and you know, made a five,” said Johnson.
“That one kind of took — you know, I knew I needed to birdie one of the last two when I did that.”
Johnson went on to a bogey-par finish over his closing two holes for a one-under-par 69 while Koepka, who began the round seven shots clear of his fellow American, also made bogey at the par-three 17th en route to a final-round 74.
Through it all, Johnson said he was doing his best to focus on his game and not pay much attention to the leaderboard.
“I was really trying not to pay attention too much because it was so difficult out there,” said Johnson, who did catch a peek at the scores when he was on the 12th tee.
“And so you know, I knew I needed to play well finishing, but yeah, I gave it a run. That’s all you can ask for.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both; Writing Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)