The honor of being a defending champion is very portable, in Dustin Johnson's view. It will not faze him that, when he tries to repeat as winner of the Barclays, he will be playing an entirely different golf course, in a different state.
He will not be able to rely on good memories of specific shots, as he did at the 2010 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, when he returned to the same venue as 2009 and won again. Johnson took the Barclays last August at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, N.J. He will make his defense Aug. 23-26 at Bethpage Black.
Is "repeat" really the right word?
"That's one of the playoff events that changes venue, so it's not too weird," he said this week in Akron, Ohio during the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. "I mean, I don't mind at all. I'll be defending champ anyway."
The weird part isn't that the Barclays has a rotation of courses (it will be back at the Black in 2016). The strange part occurred last year, when Hurricane Irene forced the Barclays organizers to shorten the event to 54 holes and hold the final round on Saturday morning rather than Sunday afternoon. Johnson proved unflappable. "I was just playing good golf," he said. "It's really easy when you're playing well."
At least Bethpage is not totally new to him. He tied for 40th on the Black Course in the 2009 U.S. Open. "I liked it. I didn't play great, but I like the golf course," he said. "It's a big golf course, the fairways are generous. It sets up pretty well for me."
Aruta tries on 61 for size
Anthony Aruta, an assistant pro at Mill River Club in Oyster Bay, birdied his first hole in the Met PGA Assistants Tour event at Island Hills in Sayville Monday and just kept going. He made 10 birdies and no bogeys for a personal best and course record 61.
Aruta, 32 of Staten Island, never played golf or paid attention to it until he was a senior in high school. "I didn't even know who Jack Nicklaus was," he said. But family members talked him into trying it and he instantly was hooked. Within a year, he was shooting par. Within five years, he had gone to a golf academy in South Carolina and became a pro. He is in his fourth year at Mill River.
Red Sox pitchers Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz played at Rockville Links last Thursday, on a day off before the Yankees series. It was not a controversial round, as one of Beckett's earlier outings had been, when he played golf near Boston despite being too injured to pitch. Neither was scheduled to pitch in the series, and the Sox won two of three . . . Dylan Crowley of Glen Cove and St. John's qualified for the U.S. Amateur in Denver next week.