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Johnson thrives in elder statesman role for U.S. Ryder Cup team

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Sep 26, 2021; Haven, Wisconsin, USA; Team USA player Dustin Johnson reacts to his putt on the 15th green during day three singles rounds for the 43rd Ryder Cup golf competition at Whistling Straits. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

KOHLER, Wisconsin, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Dustin Johnson may have been the oldest member of the triumphant U.S. Ryder Cup team on Sunday, but the stoic American showed the way for a rookie-filled squad as he dominated in a way rarely seen at the biennial team event.

The 37-year-old Johnson went 5-0 at Whistling Straits to join Francesco Molinari (2018), Larry Nelson (1979), Arnold Palmer (1967) and Gardner Dickinson (1967) as the only players to triumph in each session at a single Ryder Cup.

"You know, starting the week, if you had told me I was going to go 5-0-0, I probably would have said you were crazy. I didn't think I was going to play five matches," said Johnson.

"But obviously it was a great week. The team played amazing. All of us came together and we only wanted to win it. I think we just wanted it a little bit more."

Johnson, who was the only member of the 12-member American team to play all five sessions this week on the links-style layout, made his Ryder Cup debut in 2010 when he went 1-3 at Celtic Manor.

A lot has changed since then as the long-hitting American has steadily improved his game which allowed him to enjoy time as the top-ranked golfer in the world and also pick up a pair of major wins at the 2016 U.S. Open and 2020 Masters.

Playing on a team with six rookies and an average age of 29 was something new for Johnson but he embraced the role and won the Ryder Cup for the second time in his career.

"Obviously this is the first team where I was the oldest," said Johnson, who improved to 12-9-0 in Ryder Cup play. "On the other teams I felt like I was a younger guy on the team. A little different dynamic.

"The guys all got along great. We all have one thing in common, we do not like to lose. We had a great week, and it showed."

Reporting by Steve Keating; Writing by Frank Pingue in Toronto Editing by Toby Davis

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