Has Dustin Johnson found the solution to his putting problems?

DJ rebounded from his Masters missed cut with a top 15 finish and improved performance on the greens at the RBC Heritage

When you're the world number one, posting tied 13th in a mid-ranking PGA Tour event doesn't exactly seem much to get excited about.

But before analysing that bare finishing position, some caveats need to be applied to Dustin Johnson's seemingly no-more-than solid performance in the RBC Heritage in South Carolina.

For starters, he'd headed to Harbour Town Golf Links on the back of a relative slump.

The two-time Major winner was tied 54th in the WGC Workday Championship, tied 48th at THE PLAYERS, tied 28th in the WGC Dell Match Play and missed the cut in defence of his Masters title.

To give that some context, it was the first time he'd gone four starts without a top 25 since early 2013.

Secondly, this was actually his best finish at The Heritage in six appearances.

Okay, tied 13th only just beat his previous 'high' of tied 16th but he'd arrived at some of those previous editions in much better form.

Rather than narrowly beating his previous PB at Harbour Town, what will have pleased DJ most is the improvement he showed on the greens.

The laid-back Johnson doesn't really do exasperated, but at Augusta National the frustration with his putter was obvious.

"Six three-putts in two rounds, you just can't do that," he said after his halfway exit. "My speed was awful."

Interviewed ahead of The Heritage, the 36-year-old said he'd found the fault and fixed it. "Just set-up," said Johnson when asked what the problem had been. "Yeah, my speed was really bad and my setup was a little funky, I think. I don't know. I got it fixed, so…"

Easy, eh!

He was asked for an update on his putting mid-tournament and the report was positive. "Felt like I rolled it really good. Even the couple short ones that I missed I felt I hit them where I wanted to; just misread them a little bit. The greens are tricky. They're hard to read. Yeah, I was happy with the way I rolled it."

However, a negative Strokes Gained Putting figure on Saturday still spooked him a little. Still searching, he put a new putter in for the final round.

Did it have an immediate impact? The below figures said it did.

DJ's putting stats at Harbour Town

Strokes Gained Putting Thursday: 0.054

Strokes Gained Putting Friday: 2.360

Strokes Gained Putting Saturday: -0.277

Strokes Gained Putting Sunday: 3.014

Overall Strokes Gained Putting: 5.151 (rank 8th)

The stats show that it was the most strokes he'd gained with the putter since August's Northern Trust. His overall performance didn't get much attention but, without doubt, his week at Hilton Head had the makings of a turning point.

Here's what Johnson had to say about his putting and other parts of his game when interviewed shortly after his closing 5-under 66.

On winner Stewart Cink's performance and his own play

"The course set-up and everything, it's in really good condition, and it hasn't been too windy. Obviously he's just played really solid, not really making any mistakes, where I just feel like I made way too many mistakes. Around here, you make mistakes, they penalise you pretty big."

On being told he'd made 145 feet of putts in round four

"Well, it was kind of all in two putts really, on 16 and 17 was most of the feet. But yeah, I put a new putter in today, and yeah, it felt good. It would have made a few more I feel like, just a little more speed. The first day using it, I just got it in yesterday, so rolled a few on the putting green. I really like it. It's got a different shaft in it and a different head, but rolled good, so we're going to keep it."

On the thinking that goes into a switch of equipment

"I feel like I haven't putted really well for the last few weeks, so that's kind of really why I've just been struggling with my putter. I kept with it, kept practising, kept grinding, but it wasn't really getting any better, so sometimes it's just time for a change."

On his plans for the next few weeks

"I'm playing Tampa (Valspar Championship - April 29-May 2) and then probably the Nelson (AT&T Byron Nelson May 13-16) and PGA (PGA Championship May 20-23)."

Dustin Johnson is 11/1 (Paddy Power) to win the PGA Championship

After being asked what the new putter is

"I don't even know what it's called. It's TaylorMade." For the record, the PGA Tour report that it's the TP Bandon 1 in TaylorMade’s new TP line. It will be released this summer.

On whether it's "drastically different" from what he had


Good old, DJ! Okay, he's short on detail but the new TaylorMade putter clearly made a good start.

Whether it's the long-term solution remains to be seen.

Johnson also finished 1st for Strokes Gained Off The Tee at Harbour Town. There are still other parts of his game that he needs to improve but with Majors to come in May, June and July, DJ looks to be heading in the right direction again.

READ MORE: 150 days till the Ryder Cup: Are Team USA set for just a third victory in the 21st century?

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