Dustin Johnson finally gets his Green Jacket and by a mile

Dustin Johnson holds a replica of the Masters Trophy after his 20-under-par victory during Round 4 of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club, Sunday, November 15, 2020. Pic: Getty/ Augusta National

Nov 16: Dustin Johnson finally got the job done. He did have one Major before the Masters, but all talk was about how he had let so many get away. On the final day of the 84th Masters, made unique by a November date and no patrons (as the fans are called at the Augusta National Golf Club), Johnson started four clear. That lead had shrunk to one when he left the fifth green. His nearest rival and playing partner Korean Sungjae Im birdied twice as the World No. 1 birdied once and bogeyed twice in first five holes.

Visions of all the previous misses, when he had begun the final round with at least a share of the lead started coming into the rear view – the only time he had won a Major, the 2016 US Open, he had come from one behind to win by three.

This time Johnson, the man with a languid walk and casual look, steadied the ship with birdies on sixth and eighth and added three more birdies in a row after getting past the Amen Corner. He birdied 13th, 14th and 15th and then calmly parred the 18th for a closing 68 that gave him a record-breaking 20-under total, which eclipsed the previous mark set by Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth.

Korean Im faltered with bogeys on sixth and seventh as Johnson moved into cruise mode and ended five clear. Sungjae Im and Cameron Smith shot 69 each to tie for second at 15 under. Im’s finish was the best by an Asian at the Masters.

Johnson’s early stutter ended with a fine tee shot at the pin on the Par-3 sixth, as the ball came within six feet. Sungjae Im chipped to three feet from behind the green. Johnson holed the birdie and Im missed the par. The lead was quickly back to three.

Im bogeyed the seventh, too, while Johnson earned a par after a low punch when blocked by pine branches. Danger had been averted again and Im had fallen further behind.

Smith was still within two shots when they made the turn, but with a stronger wind he managed only more birdie, while Johnson shifted gears.

After four Top-10s in four previous starts, the Green Jacket was finally his and the defending champion, Tiger Woods, was ready to help him slip into it as the traditions demands.

Woods, meanwhile, had gotten over the nightmarish 10 on Par-3 12th, where he went into the water three times. His final burst of five birdies in last six holes made the pain easier at 76, but he slipped to T-38, a drop of 20 places from where he was after three rounds.

After putting out on the 18th, Johnson hugged his brother-cum-caddie Austin and before the champion could shed tears, Austin did. The golfing world watched Johnson win the biggest prize of career on their TV screens and just a few – 100-odd members and families – were present to cheer Johnson.

All those previous misses were now history. Gone were the nightmares of 2010. US Open at Pebble Beach, when he lost a three-shot lead with a second-hole triple bogey. He carded 82 and ended T8. An unintentional error of grounding the club on his 72nd in a bunker, that looked like wasteland, cost him the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits two months later.

Three months ago in August this year, Johnson took the lead into the final round of the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park. He shot a solid 68 but still lost to a 23-year-old Collin Morikawa (64) by two strokes.

Right now Johnson is on a brilliant streak. He has held at least a share of the lead after 54 holes in his last seven starts and he has already won the Northern Trust, the Tour Championship and the FedExCup. And now Masters.

Johnson’s second major is his 24th TOUR win. He now has a win in each of the last 14 PGA Tour seasons – a record he shares with Woods.

Of his 24 PGA Tour wins, 12 came between 2008 and 2016 and he matched that number in just five from 2015 to 2020. In his last 22 Major starts, he has won twice, been runner-up four times, been in Top-10 13 times and missed the cut only three times.

Dustin Johnson has probably hit the peak and at 36 he sure does have a lot of good and fit years.

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