Joel Dahmen will tee it up in a major championship for the first time this week, but he won’t be faceless to those who follow golf.
The Clarkston High graduate, who has gradually increased his profile during three seasons on the PGA Tour, probably gained several new fans two weeks ago during the Wells Fargo Championship. He showed his skill in placing second — and also provided a breath of fresh air when he talked about his non-obsessed approach to the game.
Dahmen echoed that sentiment this week during a phone interview with the Tribune. He was speaking from Bethpage Black at Farmingdale, N.Y., where the PGA Championship will get started Thursday.
“It was amazing to me how many people were like, ‘Oh man, I know it wasn’t the finish you wanted, but great job on the match,’” Dahmen said, referring to his showing in the Wells Fargo. “And I was like, ‘Dude, do you know what they give you for second place? (Dahmen pocketed $853,200.) If I finish second the rest of my life, I don’t think I’ll need a trophy ever again.’
“For Tiger and Rory and Phil and those guys, they’re set for money and ... they’re just after their legacy. They’re after getting in the Hall of Fame. They’re going to look back on golf history and talk about these guys. Well, I’m obviously never going to be in that category, so I’m like, ‘I just want to go out and have fun, have a great, successful career, provide for my family and have an early retirement.’ That’s kind of my whole goal.”
Dahmen has climbed to 32nd on the PGA Tour points ranking and has earned $1,778,614 in 19 events this season. After narrowly missing out on qualifying for the PGA Championship and British Open last year, Dahmen has known for some time he would be invited to this week’s major.
Naturally, he doesn’t plan on changing his approach.
“I’ve kind of figured out the more I try to do something I’m not great at or the more I kind of fiddle, the worse off I am. ... I don’t hit it far but I hit it straight, my putting has improved a lot and I hit a lot of greens, so I think if I do that anywhere, I’m going to be OK.”
Over the years, Dahmen has occasionally attempted a maniacal approach to practice, but after a few days, “I’m just going through the motions,” he said.
“I just don’t have the brain capacity to sit there and hit a million putts and be on the range forever. Once I kind of have an idea of what I’m doing, I’m good. And then the next day, maybe get a little better. The people that can just beat balls all day long until their hands are bloody and the guys who can hit a million putts — it’s never been me. I much prefer to play with friends. Obviously I’m getting better. I’m still working with my coach plenty, I still have plenty of that serious practice time, but I also need a break from it all or I’ll drive myself crazy.”
Dahmen’s comments about keeping golf in perspective drew praise from fans and journalists, but perhaps the most welcome endorsement came from Rory McIlory.
“Even Rory came up to me ... and was like, ‘Hey, I really liked your comments the other day,’ ” Dahmen said. “And he’s kind of changed his approach to that same style. Golf isn’t his life, he’s got bigger things going on — and this is arguably the best player in the world.”
Baney may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 848-2258. Follow him on Twitter @MattBaney_Trib.