New London grad sinks putt heard around the world at Ryder Cup
CHASKA -- David Johnson, a 2005 New London-Spicer graduate, got called out by some of the best golfers in the world at Hazeltine National Golf Club. He ended up taking their money. Johnson was picked out of the gallery Thursday and sank a 12-foot...
CHASKA - David Johnson, a 2005 New London-Spicer graduate, got called out by some of the best golfers in the world at Hazeltine National Golf Club.
He ended up taking their money.
Johnson was picked out of the gallery Thursday and sank a 12-foot putt at a Ryder Cup practice round after talking trash to some Team Europe players who couldn't make the same putt.
European player Rory McIlroy tweeted video of the 30-year-old Johnson making the shot to his 3 million followers.
Johnson, a State Farm Insurance agent who now resides in North Dakota, became an international sports story.
"It shouldn't have happened and it did and it was awesome," Johnson said.
Johnson was heckling European golfers, including McIlroy, who were practicing a 12-foot putt on the sixth hole. McIlroy and Andy Sullivan were repeatedly missing that putt, causing Johnson to tease the golfers.
"For some reason I yelled out 'I could make the putt,'" Johnson said. "I was just Team USA giving Team Europe a hard time."
Henrik Stenson picked Johnson out of the crowd to come to the green and try to make the putt. Justin Rose slapped a $100 bill on the green next to the golf ball.
Johnson said he didn't feel any nerves, even though he was putting in front of a large group of fans there to watch the practice round.
"I wasn't nervous at all because I knew I was going to miss," Johnson said. "Rory McIlroy, (a top) golfer in the world, sat over a putt three times and missed. Who am I to make that putt? There was just no way."
Johnson described himself as a "recreational golfer at best." The 6-foot-5 Johnson used a 28-inch putter, which he said was probably the shortest putter he has ever used in his life.
While standing over the putt, Johnson joked that he wanted "DJ's" putter, referring to Dustin Johnson, who is 6-foot-4 and plays on the PGA Tour.
Despite the shorter putter, Johnson drained the shot and the gallery went crazy. Johnson pumped his fist into the air and soaked in the moment. He then hugged all the European golfers.
"That was nuts," Johnson said. "It was a moment you couldn't dream of, a moment you couldn't re-live."
Stenson told the Golf Channel: "Someone in the crowd (yelled), 'I can make it, I can do it.' We let him have a go, and he came down, and all credit to him. Rose put $100 on the ground and the guy just drilled it in the center."
Johnson said his group had arrived at Hazeltine about 45 minutes before he got called inside the ropes and hit the memorable putt that became a social media sensation.
"It was a 'Tin Cup' moment," Johnson said referring to the famous golf movie. "I made the putt, I spent way too long cheering to the crowd and held my hat up and just soaked it in. ... It was just fun."
While Johnson said he will continue to cheer for Team USA during the Ryder Cup, which starts Friday, Sept. 30, he is thankful the European golfers allowed him the chance for a one-in-a-lifetime experience.
"What a fun thing for them to do," Johnson said. "It just gives me more respect for those guys that they're here for the spectators, they're here for the fans. They are here to create those moments. ... I won't forget that."