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Dustin Johnson Named PGA Tour's 2016 Player of the Year

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2016

CHASKA, MN - OCTOBER 02:  Dustin Johnson of the United States reacts to a putt on the tenth green during singles matches of the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club on October 2, 2016 in Chaska, Minnesota.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson was voted the 2016 PGA Tour Player of the Year by his fellow golfers following a voting process that concluded Friday. 

The PGA Tour announced the result, which was based on ballots from players who made at least 15 tour starts during the 2015-16 season, on Tuesday.

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem released a statement of praise as part of the announcement:

On behalf of the PGA Tour, my congratulations to Dustin Johnson for his outstanding play on big stages during the 2015-16 season. 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 adds the honor, which comes with the Jack Nicklaus Trophy, to a growing list of awards for the recently completed campaign. He also won the PGA Player of the Year, Arnold Palmer Award (money leader), Vardon Trophy (PGA scoring leader) and Byron Nelson Award (PGA Tour scoring leader).

The 32-year-old American has been one of the best players on the PGA Tour for nearly a decade, ranking inside the top 20 on the money list each of the past eight years. The lack of a major title had lingered above his career like a dark cloud after a series of Sunday failures, though.

However, his drought on golf's biggest stages finally came to an end in June at the U.S. Open. A final-round meltdown by Shane Lowry opened the door for Johnson, who posted a one-under round at the always challenging Oakmont Country Club, to finish at four under and claim the coveted trophy.

Afterward, he talked about finally breaking through after watching the 2015 U.S. Open slip out of his grasp, per Karen Crouse of the New York Times: "It's a big monkey off my back, for sure. After last year to come back this year and perform like this, you know, it definitely, I think it shows what kind of golfer I am and, you know, it was awesome."

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His rise to the top of the sport comes two years after he reportedly served a six-month suspension, which Michael Bamberger and Mike Walker of Golf.com reported was for a positive cocaine test. Johnson later told the outlet's Pete Thamel: "I have issues. But that's not the issue."

Then, in 2016, just as it started to look like his chance to reach his full potential might be fading away, he finally combined his top-tier power with some clutch putting to become the player many expected years ago.

It resulted in wins at the BMW Championship and Bridgestone Invitational to go along with the U.S. Open triumph. And now, he's adding even more hardware to his trophy case thanks to the players he faced on a weekly basis, which makes the PGA Tour Player of the Year honor all the more meaningful.

                                                         

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