Johnson cruises to win, No. 1 world ranking in typical DJ fashion

Dustin JohnsonHarry How/Getty Images

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Everything about Dustin Johnson's ascendancy to the world No. 1 ranking for the first time was perfectly appropriate.

He didn't backdoor his way into the top spot with some T-22 finish. Didn't sweat out some chew-your-fingernails stretch run.

No, the guy who has created a habit of making golf look easy made this look downright effortless.

By winning the Genesis Open by a 5-stroke margin, Johnson became the 20th different No. 1 player in the 31-year history of the world ranking -- and he cemented what so many within the game already knew.

He's not just the top-ranked player. He's also the best right now.

Such superlatives are fleeting in a game where things change so quickly on a weekly basis. Already in the first month and a half of 2017, we've witnessed Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama and Jordan Spieth look like the world's best player, so it's understandable if any assertion about Johnson's prevalence rings a bit hollow.

It shouldn't, though.

We can still argue which player is the best when every world-class golfer has his A-plus form. Jason Day, the man who held the No. 1 spot for the previous 47 weeks, has appeared dominant at times. Same for Rory McIlroy, who is currently injured. Spieth, too, who's only a week removed from a ho-hum 4-shot victory of his own.

If we're talking right now, though -- right this very minute -- the obvious answer is Johnson. Just check out the numbers: In the past nine months, he has finished eighth or better in 14 of his 18 worldwide starts, including four wins. Want to reach back even further? He's now won a tournament in each of the past 10 PGA Tour seasons, easily the best current mark.

Whereas Day and Spieth each insisted after reaching No. 1 for the first time that it was a lifelong goal, Johnson brought his usual coolness to the matter, even admitting that winning the tournament trumped any statistical relevancy in the rankings.

"That's what I was here to do," he said. "I was coming in here to put myself in a position to win, and I did that, and I played really well. I wasn't really thinking about my world ranking; I was thinking about winning this golf tournament, what it would take to do that. That's kind of all I focus on. I look at the world golf ranking, but it's not like my goal is, I want to get to No. 1 this week. I want to win the golf tournament I'm playing. If I get to No. 1 there winning the golf tournament, then obviously that's even a bonus."

Of course, the world's best golfers are judged on their performances four times each year. Following a campaign during which he won the U.S. Open for his first major championship and finished top-10 at two others, Johnson is already one of the favorites to continue adding more hardware to his mantle.

On Sunday, Johnson sealed his position as the world's best. That might have been visible to the naked eye for a while, but it's now statistically true, as well.

For the player who has cracked the formula to reaching that lofty number, though, he has never concerned himself too much with the math behind it.

"I don't really understand it, but I can read the 1-2-3," he deadpanned. "I guess that's all that matters."

Others -- Day included -- have at times lamented the No. 1 ranking, or at least the pressure and responsibilities which come with the territory. Johnson seems adequately equipped to deal with it, his nonchalance often mistaken for apathy.

Asked what advice he'd give his successor, Day said, "Whatever he's doing, he just needs to keep doing it."

He isn't wrong. The guy who made winning look easy, who made reaching No. 1 look easy, who so often makes golf look easy, is already making the art of dealing with his new role look easy, too.

As to whether he has prepared for the additional attention, Johnson simply shrugged after the victory.

"I've only been No. 1 for about 30 minutes," he replied. "Ask me in a couple weeks."