SHANGHAI (AP) — Dustin Johnson is starting to compile the kind of numbers that are difficult to ignore.
Not since Tiger Woods has a player won on the PGA Tour in each of his first seven seasons. To already have eight tour wins before turning 30 puts him in select company that only includes names like Woods, Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson and David Duval over the last 25 years.
He hasn't won a major, though getting into serious contention should not be overlooked. Johnson had the 54-hole lead at the U.S. Open, a one-shot lead playing the 72nd hole in the PGA Championship and he was closing in on the lead in the final round at the British Open until hitting a 2-iron out-of-bounds on the 14th hole at Royal St. George's.
What annoys him is another attribute of great players — they're part of every team.
The Presidents Cup was held a month ago, and Johnson wasn't on it. He was barely part of the conversation when it was time for Fred Couples to make his captain's picks.
"I was mad," Johnson said Sunday after his three-shot win in the HSBC Champions, his first World Golf Championship title. "I wanted to be on that team. I wasn't mad at anyone, but I was mad at myself for not being on the team. I struggled a little bit last year, but I thought I still played well enough to get on the team. I think I finished 12th on the points list. I could have been a pick."
Couples instead chose 20-year-old Jordan Spieth and Webb Simpson, who had been bumped out of the 10th spot on the final hole of a two-year qualifying process.
It would be hard to fault Couples, even though Johnson is one of the most explosive players.
Johnson began the year by winning at Kapalua, and then he disappeared for the rest of the season. He really had only one serious chance of winning, when he tied for second in the Canadian Open, although he got into the last group at the Tour Championship. He didn't make a peep in the majors.
About the only time he got anyone's attention was when he proposed to Paulina Gretzky, the daughter of the Great One.
Four days at Sheshan International was a reminder that the 29-year-old American is still around, still very good and capable of beating the best. Johnson was too busy making birdies to pay attention to the players chasing him Sunday afternoon — Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter next to him, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer trying to catch him. That's half of Europe's winning Ryder Cup team at Medinah last year.
Johnson made three birdies and an eagle during a pivotal five-hole stretch on the back nine, and what got McDowell's attention was how that streak started on the 13th hole, which bends hard to the right and has water to the right of the green.
"To me it kind of personifies Dustin Johnson," McDowell said. "He trenches one 350 down the middle and has the hands to hit that 70-yard shot to the front pin and make the putt. He's just a quality, talented, very athletic, classy player. Yeah, he makes mistakes. But when you've got a game as good as him, you can get away with a few mistakes."