Dahmen Shares Shockingly Honest Expectations

We always hear about the razor-thin margins that separate the world’s best golfers on the PGA Tour from those who are struggling in the minor leagues, but one of this week’s Wells Fargo Championship 54-hole co-leaders gave an honest assessment of the schism between the top-10 in the world and rank-and-file Tour pros.

Joel Dahmen is no slouch. A two-time state champion in high school and a cancer survivor, the Washington native has won twice on the PGA Tour Canada and is in his second season on the PGA Tour. 

He’s made 41 cuts and over $2 million on the course, headlined by a T9 earlier this year at the Farmers Insurance Open, but to hear him talk about his place in the pantheon of professional golf is to get a refreshingly candid and honest sense of his expectations.

“(The top-10 players in the world) are way better than I am,” Dahmen said after shooting an opening-round 66 to tie Rory McIlroy. “I mean, put it this way — like, week in and week out or over the course of a career, they’re going to be way better than I am. But golf is awesome because on any given week or given day, anybody can beat anybody.

“Yeah, like I played as well as Rory today and I beat everybody else in the field. That’s great, and there’s no reason I can’t do that for three more days. I think I’m getting to a point where I actually believe it where all right, you hit it straight enough, you putt well enough, you chip well enough, all that garbage, it’s great. I think there’s just believing in it and there’s believing in it in different levels.”

Dahmen has kept it going for at least the next two rounds of the tournament. Rounds of 66-66-70 have him at 11-under par and tied with Jason Dufner and Max Homa, tops in a field that includes McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia and Patrick Reed.

Dahmen continued with his expectations response, talking about wanting to win and expecting to win.

“When I went to Puntacana (for the opposite field event during the WGC-Match Play), I went down there to win a golf tournament,” he said. “For the first time in my Tour career, I went down there to win a golf tournament. I obviously tried to win this HackMasters thing (a buddies tournament in Arizona) because I’m the best player there. Now it’s like those guys, (the top-10 players) expect, week in and week out, to be on the leaderboard and to be around. Am I that good? No, but when I’m playing my best I can compete with a lot of people.

“Is my best as good as Rory’s? Absolutely not. Is my best top-10 in the world? No. But is it good enough to compete week in and week out? Absolutely.”

He has a chance on Sunday to prove that quote correct. He’ll tee off in the second-to-last group alongside Pat Perez at Quail Hollow.