Dustin Johnson has vowed to contend in golf’s major championships this year after admitting his lacklustre performance in the four big events soured an otherwise brilliant 2018.
Johnson arrives at this week’s Tournament of Champions in Hawaii as defending champion, having kicked off last year with an utterly dominant eight-shot victory in severe winds.
The former world No.1 went on to win the St Jude Classic and Canadian Open before finishing the 2018 US PGA Tour season with more than $US8 million ($A11 million) in prize money.
But 34-year-old Johnson lamented his results at the majors, with his only genuine chance at victory coming during a third placing at the US Open.
“I feel like I had a good year, but I would like to have had a little better performance in the majors; I just didn’t contend,” Johnson said on Wednesday at Kapalua’s Plantation course on Maui.
Johnson turns his attention to the Tournament of Champions – starting Friday (AEDT) – where he will attempt to win a third title.
Doing so would equal Australia’s Stuart Appleby for most victories since the event moved to Maui in 1999.
Set on the slopes of the west Maui mountains, the 7,500-yard Kapalua course has typically favoured big hitters – especially when Maui’s infamous Kona winds blow.
Johnson said that wouldn’t change this week with conditions the softest he had ever seen.
“The golf course is playing a lot longer this year just because it’s so soft, the ball’s not rolling at all,” he said.
Fellow big bomber Rory McIlroy agreed, although the four-time major winner is making his Kapalua debut this week.
“I’ve watched a lot of it on TV over the years; with wide fairways, length is probably a big factor here,” McIlroy said.
“I can see why the scores have been low.”
However, Patrick Reed – the 2015 champion – insisted shorter hitters such as himself still have a fighting chance.
Reed said creativity was more important around the severely undulating Kapalua and likened it to Augusta National, where Reed captured last year’s Masters title.
“With how slopey the greens are at Kapalua, how much the wind blows and the sidehill lies, I feel like it taps into the creativitythat you need to play … just like Augusta,” Reed said.
The Tournament of Champions is an elite, no-cut event for winners from the previous year on the PGA Tour and will feature 34 players this week. It has a purse of $US6.5m ($A9.3m), with $US1.3m ($A1.9m) given to the winner and $US62,000 ($A88,750) to last place.