Much like Gil Morgan 18 years ago, Johnson collapsed on Sunday in the final round of the Open. Morgan held the lead going to the final day in 1992, only to shoot an 81 while Tom Kite played flawless to win his only major championship.
On the verge of becoming the new master of Pebble Beach after consecutive wins in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Johnson finished with an 82. His day included a triple bogey on No. 2, a double at the third and a bogey at four and seven. His three-shot lead from Saturday was gone by the fourth tee.
Succumbing to pressure is nothing new in the U.S. Open. But Johnson appeared so relaxed and at ease on Saturday in his masterful third round. While Tiger Woods was making his back-nine charge on Saturday, Johnson was quietly matching everything the world's No. 1 player was doing. Both shot 66, but it was Johnson 11 shots in front of Woods heading to Sunday.
"I thought after the way he played yesterday if the same guy turned up he was going to be really tough to beat," said Johnson's playing partner, Graeme McDowell who held on for a one-shot victory.
That lead Johnson brought to his Sunday afternoon tee time vanished in a hurry.
"When you saw Dustin made a triple early you knew it was anybody's ball game," said Phil Mickelson, who finished in a tie for fourth place, three shots back of McDowell.
Johnson played the first seven holes, traditionally the easiest stretch at Pebble Beach, at 7-over par. He conjured memories of Morgan, who in 1992 at Pebble became the first person to reach 10-under par in the history of the U.S. Open, but finished 13th on a windy final day.
Johnson's troubles began when he hit his approach shot into an awkward lie in a bunker on No. 2, then had to chip out left-handed. The ball barely squirted out, then Johnson's fourth shot from the deep grass popped up and moved about two feet. He missed a 3-foot putt for double bogey and wound up with a 7. It was part of a triple-bogey, double-bogey, bogey stretch that sent him from 6 under to 1 over in the span of seven holes.
Johnson shored up his game on the back, but still made bogeys at 11, 12, 16 and 17. His day was capped by a deflating three-putt par on the 18th, just before watching McDowell tap-in to win the tournament.