Pressure? Come On, Dustin Johnson and England, Give Me a Break!

Andy Gray@@TheRealAndyGrayContributor IIJune 23, 2010

PEBBLE BEACH, CA - JUNE 20:  Dustin Johnson watches his tee shot on the  fourth hole during the final round of the 110th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links on June 20, 2010 in Pebble Beach, California.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

There seems to be a bit of a trend surfacing of late. Professional sportsmen are being excused poor performances due to the pressure of the situation. I don’t like it.

I think it’s only right to admit from the start that this article is being fueled by anger towards someone I had a bet on that didn’t win.

This is the journalistic equivalent of having an argument with your significant other while drunk or more trivially, going food shopping while hungry. Nevertheless I feel it’s a topic that many people will be able to relate to in light of our National Football team’s latest shortcomings.

Let me address the fuel for my fire—Dustin Johnson.

For those of you who don’t know, Johnson held a three shot lead at 6-under par with just one round to go at the close of play on Saturday at the US Open at Pebble Beach.

As it turned out, the eventual champion, Graeme McDowell finished the tournament on level par, meaning that Johnson could have carded a final round 76 (his worst round so far was 71) and still won the tournament.

Congratulations though to McDowell, who became Britain's first major winner since Paul Lawrie in 1999, and the first European to claim the US Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970.

Despite being an outsider at the start of the week, some excellent golf put Johnson first in contention and then in the lead after a superb round of golf on Saturday. It is also worth noting that Johnson had won the previous two PGA Tour tournaments at Pebble Beach, so he had been in this position before and done the business.

Not this time though.

Johnson started with a solid par which should have settled any nerves he had on the first tee and put him in a good mindset to go and win the tournament.

However, he then produced a short game display akin to a one-armed gopher, as he first duffed a backhanded chip and then fluffed an outrageous attempted flop shot before missing a short putt. He literally imploded in the space of about two minutes. If you hit pause on your Sky + remote at the right time you could actually see the moment his rectum inverted.

Despite this monumental disaster, though, he still held a share of the lead. Breathe, regroup, calm, fairway is what you would expect to happen in the mindset of someone capable of leading the US Open.

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What we got was: Breathe, regroup, swipe, hit in the bushes about 100 yards left of target. A lost ball, a double bogey and tournament over? Not yet.

There were still 15 holes to play and only two shots off the lead, the pressure of leading from the front is now gone, surely its time to settle. Just hit the fairway, and….beach; Ok now it’s over. Johnson went on to shoot 82—the second worst score of the day—and finished five shots behind.

Now time for the seamless link.

Dustin sounds like Justin, which is the first name of Justin Rose; the Rose is the symbol of England Rugby; Jonny Wilkinson came on against Australia for England at the weekend and scored the winning points; Points are what I am now going to make about English footballers.

Told you, seamless.

England have now suffered two bore draws to open a World Cup in which people believed they would go all the way to the final and maybe even win the thing! However, we keep hearing that there is too much pressure on the players making them nervous and so they can’t kick a ball properly anymore.

Yes, I know that nerves play a part in all sport, but I don’t buy for a second the fact that nerves have the capabilities to rob professional sportsmen of all talent they had before. Fabio Capello recently said: 'It is simply the fear that stops the legs, that stops the mind; that stops everything. I'm not criticising them for that. I know the problem, it happens sometimes in important matches.' What a load of cack.

These players play their football at the highest level for their clubs on a weekly basis. Out of the starting eleven against Algeria, four of them have won Premier League titles, six have appeared in Champions league Finals and nine of them have won the FA Cup.

In these situations they didn’t buckle under the pressure. In fact, on the whole they excelled and relished the opportunity. Due to this, I feel there can be no excuse for letting "nerves" take over during the World Cup.

I’m actually pretty pleased that John Terry came out with the retort: ‘That's a little bit insulting, because we are not.’

At least he’s not shipping the blame to us lot for wanting them to win! Making this point is the first good thing he’s done since Vanessa Perroncel, and unfortunately it may have similar devastating consequences as I can’t imagine Fabio appreciating those comments.

It just seems that professionals are too easily forgiven for letting the nerves take over.

Dustin Johnson should have been able to shoot a half decent score and win the US Open; there’s no way you can be excused for such deterioration just because there’s a few people watching and a big shiny trophy’s at stake. The man hit some shots that would have sent me into ‘Snap Club Mode’ in my club’s Monthly Medal competitions.

As for Steven Gerrard and the boys, it does not bode well that the "pressure" has affected them in the last two games, when there is more than likely going to be more of it on their shoulders in a must win game against the group leaders. For once, it would be nice to see them revel in it and rise to the occasion like they do for their club.

Pressure is forgetting your significant other’s birthday and trying to stall, go to work, buy a present and a card, and arrange dinner for that night all in one morning. It’s killing your kid’s pet and trying to find an identical replacement before the end of school.

It’s not trying to win a tournament. The examples used in this article don’t need to win these tournaments to for financial gain, they secure in their lifestyle and more money is trivial.

What should matter is the enjoyment and pride you get from excelling in your sport. So nerves should not come into it.

Maybe I’m wrong, I haven’t been there, but it just seems silly to me that players who get put in these situations on a regular basis can all of a sudden get overwhelmed by a situation.

As it stands, the accusations during the Silver Swede era in the National team that the players are a bunch of overpaid prima donnas who don’t care about the country as they aren’t paid for it, ring true.

It was announced before the tournament that any winning bonuses the players get would go to charity. Maybe the only way to get them to try and win this thing is if we tell the charities in question to forget it. I’d like to think not

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