Dustin Johnson has been named the 2016 PGA TOUR Player of the Year as voted on by the TOUR’s membership for the 2015-16 season.
PGA TOUR members who played in at least 15 official money events this past season were eligible to vote. The balloting process ended on October 7.
“On behalf of the PGA TOUR, my congratulations to Dustin Johnson for his outstanding play on big stages during the 2015-16 season,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “His hard work on the golf course and in the gym paid off with the finest season of his career, and the member vote reflects the respect his peers have for him.”
Johnson, 32, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., fashioned a career-best three wins during the 2015-16 season at the U.S. Open, World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and BMW Championship. With his record-breaking victory at the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick Golf Club, Johnson took over the lead in the FedExCup and ultimately finished second to Rory McIlroy in the season-long competition.
In 22 starts, Johnson had a TOUR-best 15 top-10 finishes with 21 made cuts. In addition to his three wins, he posted top-three finishes at the RBC Canadian Open (T2), Shell Houston Open (3) and the Memorial Tournament (3). Johnson also took home the Byron Nelson Award for Adjusted Scoring Average (69.172) and the Arnold Palmer Award as the TOUR’s leading money-winner ($9,365,185).
Johnson has now won at least one PGA TOUR event in nine consecutive seasons dating back to his rookie season in 2008, the longest active streak on TOUR.
Johnson, who will receive the Jack Nicklaus Trophy for winning PGA TOUR Player of the Year, was selected for the honour over Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson.
CHRIS REIMER: I want to welcome all the media and thank them for their time in joining us for this great announcement. We'll go ahead and get it underway quickly. I'll introduce Tim Finchem, Commissioner of the PGA TOUR. Tim?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Thanks, Chris, and thank you all to members of the media who are with us today. We appreciate your coverage throughout the season. I'm not going to get into any mean Tweets this morning.
From any perspective that you want to look at, we had a really great 2015-2016 season. There are a lot of reasons for that, but among them and at the top were the fact that we continued to have our young players and established stars dominate the headlines throughout the year. The FedExCup Playoff final at the TOUR Championship was our best finish yet to that part was season. It was really good stuff.
And then as everyone knows, nowadays when we complete the TOUR Championship and hand out the FedExCup, that night, the next morning, the ballots are handed out to the players to vote and who should be Player of the Year, and we're pleased to announce today that Dustin Johnson is the 2016 PGA TOUR Player of the Year. He will receive the Jack Nicklaus Trophy in recognition of that accomplishment.
Dustin had a tremendous year in every respect, and I don't think the players had much difficulty with their decision on who to vote for, but when you consider that he had three wins, and big wins, the U.S. Open, the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational and the BMW Championship during the FedExCup Playoffs. He finished second to Rory in the FedExCup in an incredibly exciting finish. He finished first on the official Money List to win the Arnold Palmer Award. He finished first in adjusted scoring average to win the Byron Nelson Award.
He led the PGA TOUR with 15 top 10s. He made 21 cuts in 22 starts. And as a consequence, he was selected for PGA TOUR Player of the Year over, on the ballot, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson, all of whom had pretty solid years in and of themselves.
When you add all that up, it's pretty spectacular. I would like to make one additional comment, though, with respect to Dustin's work ethic, how he's pushed himself to come along, and actually get better virtually every season since he's started. I think it's important to note that since he was a rookie, starting with his rookie season, he has won at least one tournament in nine consecutive seasons, and there are only three other players since 1950 who started their first nine seasons with at least a win, and that was Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. So he is in phenomenal company in his consistency.
It's exciting for us to have a player who plays like Dustin, who handles himself the way he does, and has demonstrated through his consistency that he could be up there for many, many years, and that gives us great comfort.
With that, Dustin, congratulations on your season, congratulations on being voted PGA TOUR Player of the Year by your fellow players, and I'll ask you to make some comments before we throw it open to the media.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Thanks, Tim. You know, I'm very honored to receive the PGA TOUR Player of the Year, also the Palmer Trophy and the Nelson Award. They're great honors. I don't even know if I ever even dreamed that this would be happening, but obviously it was a great season. I worked really hard on all parts of my game this whole year, and I'm going to continue to do that, you know, and just very blessed to be receiving all these awards. I'm very thankful for the opportunity to receive these.
CHRIS REIMER: At this point we'll take questions from media on the call.
Q. I was looking at your results, and in the fall you had a good tournament in Shanghai and then a good tournament in Tiger's tournament, took a break, came back, right out of the gate with a top 10, and then played pretty well throughout the spring. I'm just wondering if during the early part of the season, did you feel some of the work you were putting in on certain areas of your game was taking hold, and at that time did you feel like you were on a pretty good track to the kind of season you eventually had?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, obviously I got into the year starting off great. I felt like I played really well and really solid throughout the first half of the year, just had a lot of chances to win some tournaments, just couldn't quite get it done. But I felt like -- it felt like every single week I was up there and had a chance to win.
I knew what I was doing was working. I just needed to keep working at it. I knew that it was going to come along, and obviously it did, getting my first major at the U.S. Open.
Q. What part of your game do you feel like in retrospect you improved the most or are you most proud for improving, getting better at?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, my wedge game. It definitely improved tremendously this year. That's something that I'm going to continue to work on and continue to try to get better. But that's definitely one part that really improved.
And then I also felt like the driver was really consistent this year. I felt like I hit more fairways, and my misses got more manageable, where even if I hit a bad drive, I still kind of kept it in play and still had a chance; you know, I didn't hit as many out of play.
Q. Curious how much confidence you have when you tee it up these days? Is it confidence beyond what you've ever had before? And secondly, when you look at this incredible collection of trophies along with a Ryder Cup win and you look at the season as a whole, what makes you the proudest?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, let me try to -- what was the first question? I'm sorry.
Q. Just the amount of confidence you must have teeing it up.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Oh, yeah, I've gotcha. Yeah, obviously with all the success I've had this year with everything that I accomplished, yeah, I mean, I have a lot of confidence. But you know, it keeps getting better, but I know the biggest thing for me and what gives me the most confidence is knowing the work that I'm putting in is working, so that drives me to work harder. It gives me more -- I don't know, it makes me more driven to become better. So that's what probably gives me the most confidence is just knowing that the work that I'm doing is working and it's going to continue my success.
You know, this year, I mean, obviously, like I said, it was kind of a dream season as far as winning the PGA TOUR Player of the Year, winning the Money List trophy, which is the Palmer trophy, and then also the lowest scoring average, which is the Nelson Award. You know, all those honors are incredible, and I'm very, very honored to be receiving those awards.
And also, I mean, one of the biggest highlights, especially for this year for me, is getting that first major, especially since I've been so close so many times, and, you know, obviously the consistency that my game possesses right now.
Q. Just wondered, you said earlier that you didn't know if you could have dreamed that this would happen, but now that it has, I wonder how your expectations are going to be different for next year, winning this award, obviously winning your first major, and being so close to the world No. 1 ranking.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, obviously my expectations going into next year are going to be very high, and that's going to drive me to keep continuing to work hard and keep doing exactly what I'm doing because it's working. I've got a lot of confidence in the game right now, in all parts of the game. I feel good. There's nothing that I don't feel good with.
Next year, yeah, I mean, expectations are going to be very high, and hopefully I'm going to play up to this year, and next year hopefully I can have a better year.
Q. Obviously a lot was made about the improvements in the off-season with the driver and the wedges; what do you feel like you're going to work on and address this off-season in an attempt to kind of match this season?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, I'll continue to try to improve the wedge game. I mean, you can never be too good with a wedge or any other part of your game. That's one thing. Actually I enjoy working on it, so I'm going to continue to work on that.
The driver, yeah, I mean, definitely, definitely keep working there. And then probably the thing I'll work the hardest on will be the putter. You know, I feel like it's getting better, but it's got a lot of room for improvement, so that's something that I will keep working hard at and try to improve for starting next year.
Q. Kicking off this season now, I imagine you're playing Shanghai, and then would you be returning to Maui again? Just talk about the Tournament of Champions, where that ranks on your list of events.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Okay, yeah, I'm definitely going to play in Shanghai here in a couple weeks, so that will be my first event of the year, and then the next event that I'll play will be -- will definitely be the Tournament of Champions. It's one of my favorite events on the TOUR. I love going to Hawai'i and playing that event. You know, Maui is a great place to go play golf for a week. We usually try to go over a little bit early to hang out and get a few extra practice rounds in. But yeah, I mean, I love going over there and playing. They do a great job with that tournament. Their golf course is fun to play, and obviously I've won there, so I like the golf course. I'm excited about it.
Q. Did you vote for yourself?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I did not.
Q. Why not?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: (Laughing) I don't even know if I want to -- I didn't vote.
Q. On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you put your work ethic this year, and how would you compare that to previous years?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I would say this year I would give myself about a 7½ on a scale of 1 to 10. And then compared to other years, we're probably like, I don't know, a 5.
Q. That sounds kind of middle of the road.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, that would be it. But this year I felt like I worked really hard. There's still room to work harder, but I feel like I'm at the level that works best for me, where I don't get too burned out or don't feel like I'm pushing too hard. I feel like I'm putting in enough quality work that works for my mentality so I'm not overdoing it or I'm not under. I feel like I'm at a really good pace.
You know, there's just a few things that I need to work on for next year that I feel like can improve my game even more.
Q. I think it was Jeff who asked the question about your confidence, and you mentioned that you see the hard work pay off and that's going to drive you to work harder. Do you run the risk of overdoing it?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: No.
Q. Do you have to guard against that?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I don't think so, because if I feel like I'm overdoing it, then I'll just stop. But where I'm putting in more work than I have in years past is in the gym and then also wedge work, so those things I don't feel like I can overdo. I've always been pretty good at balancing when I have time off, making sure I take time off, but just not too much time.
Q. What's the longest break you took this year without hitting a ball?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I don't know. Maybe a week, 10 days maybe.
Q. You said you were going to work on putting in the off-season, to improve that. Can you give your fans some idea of what it is you work on when you work on putting to improve it? Are there drills that you do? What is it you do to get better?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, alignment definitely, basic stuff. I know it sounds tedious or -- but working on basic fundamentals, which is setup and then alignment, just making sure those things are in order kind of every day, and then drills that I'll do is kind of hit a lot of putts, whether it's right to left -- I'll do both. I'll do three, six and nine feet, right-to-left and then left-to-right putts, and then just -- I'll work mostly inside of 10 feet because that's where the majority of your putts are, and that's where you can kind of -- where you can improve the most is those, is the shorter distance putts. Just making a lot of putts like that, even from three feet away, just making 100 in a row, just to see the ball going in the hole gives you confidence.
Q. You have in your everyday life now access to the greatest hockey player who ever lived and his influence and wisdom. I'm just curious has any of that day-to-day stuff carried over into your golf?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, just having his support and his belief, just telling me how good I am and things like that, it definitely helps. It helps with confidence, helps with everything. Just being able to talk to him sometimes and pick his brain about things that are going on with the golf has been unbelievable.