By Flint Wheeler
It may have arrived in controversial fashion but Dustin Johnson described his first major triumph at the U.S. Open as a “monkey off his back.” The new world No. 3 overcame a one-stroke penalty awarded in bizarre fashion to secure a three-shot victory at Oakmont. Johnson called an official while on the fifth green during his final round after his ball appeared to move. The 31-year-old insisted he hadn’t caused the ball to move, which would’ve incurred a penalty, and playing partner Lee Westwood also absolved the American of any blame.
Leading the field, Johnson was informed on the 12th tee that a decision on the incident wouldn’t be made until he had completed his round. Although he was penalized, Johnson’s lead over Ireland’s Shane Lowry and compatriots Jim Furyk and Scott Piercy was such that it had no impact on the outcome of the tournament. “I just tried to focus on each shot, not worry about what had happened,” Johnson told CNN. “Whether I got the penalty or not, ultimately it didn’t matter.” Johnson’s win, which came at his 29th career major, was warmly received by fellow pros Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy — who both tweeted their congratulations. “To finally put it all together on a Sunday and get that first major championship is absolutely huge,” added Johnson, who has suffered heartbreak at golf’s biggest events in the past. In 2010, Johnson missed out on a place in a playoff at the U.S. PGA Championship as a result of a penalty. He also led the field at the halfway point of last year’s British Open, only to fall away over the weekend. “It’s a huge monkey off my back. Especially with all the near misses I’ve had in a lot of majors in the last few years,” he said. “This one is definitely going to be special in my heart forever.”
And speaking of Monkeys of Backs – Congratulations Cleveland! The Cavaliers did something never before done in the NBA: they came back after being down 3-1 to win the championship. They beat the Golden State Warriors, the team with the best regular season. LeBron James has finally done it. The central quest of his entire NBA career has been to bring a championship to Cleveland. He did it Sunday night with an unbelievable performance, as the Cavaliers topped the defending champion Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.
It demanded a series of stunning performances from James, a crazy shot from Kyrie Irving and the unlikeliest comeback in the history of professional basketball, but the Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors, 93-89, in an instantly classic Game 7 of the NBA Finals on Sunday for their first title in franchise history.
It seemed impossible that Game 7 would live up to its dramatic hype. The sport’s biggest stars, James and Stephen Curry, were battling for NBA supremacy and for basketball stakes that come along once in a generation. Either way, the game was going to crown the best team ever, or secure the wildest rally ever.
But then Game 7 exceeded nearly everyone’s expectations. There were 20 lead changes. There was masterful shot-making. There were so many nerves that both cities might want to spend the next week taking very deep breaths.
Mostly, though, there was James’s brilliance. The most valuable player of the Finals finished the series atop every conceivable statistical category, and on Sunday, he poured in a triple-double of 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. But his defining play may have been none of the above: a phenomenal chase-down block. Not surprisingly, LeBron was named Finals MVP. James got a huge assist from Kyrie Irving on the night. The 24-year-old point guard scored 26 points on the night while adding six rebounds.
What happened was a mythic Game 7 in which James proved his prediction wrong: It took exactly the same amount of time for him to deliver an NBA championship to Cleveland as it did in Miami. Even the best regular-season team in basketball was no match for the best player on earth.