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Plus, the 26-year-old is so low-key, even stuck in the scariest places on the toughest courses, that the temptation is to check him for a pulse. Johnson has won three times since his rookie season in 2008, including the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am the last two years _ which may be why his collapse at the U.S. Open caught so many people by surprise.

He’s got the makeup of a major champion, lacking only a trophy to prove it.

“This week, I’m just looking for _ I’m not looking ahead until Sunday. All I can do is focus on tomorrow and get ready as best I can,” he said.

Johnson is one of those guys who doesn’t like to talk about unfinished business, even to those who know him best. He’s in the running for a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team, but good luck getting him to acknowledge something beyond, “My golf will take care of that.”

Brown knows better.

He knows Johnson is that way about almost everything, so he cautions against assuming that just because you don’t see the fire in his eyes, the pilot light is flickering on low.

“He’s got a lot to play for this weekend, whether he says so or not,” Brown said. “But we haven’t even talked about it, honestly. He never said two words about it when he played a practice round with Corey (Pavin, the U.S. Ryder Cup captain) and he was invited to that (team) barbecue the other night

“All he said,” the caddie added, shaking his head, “is that they had great food.”


Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)