DJ's magical music garners green jacket

The Masters R4

November 12-15
Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia
$11,500,000
Round 1, Round 2, Round 3


Closing out a major championship is likely the most challenging issue for any top tier professional to demonstrate. Whatever has happened in the previous 54 holes is in no way comparable to a final round.



Dustin Johnson is familiar with this hurdle. Four times he led after 54 holes before coming up empty — each time.

Unquestionably, the final round of a Masters is fraught with an unending bombardment of emotions — the highs and lows sweeping through at regular intervals taxing the physical and mental side.


Johnson walked to the 1st tee of the final round with a four-stroke lead courtesy of two earlier rounds of 65 and his play was nothing less than brilliant. While many opined that DJ would likely win — the task ahead would still need him to do so.



DJ’s start was concerning. Unlike Saturday’s play when by the time he reached the 5th tee he was already four-under-par — the Sunday start clearly showed a man trying to gather himself. A birdie at the 3rd provided a bit of stability. However, when facing the demands of the par-3 4th and the resurgent demands of the par-4 5th — Johnson bogeyed both. The four-stroke lead was reduced to one and as Dustin arrived at the par-3 6th the fate of the 84th Masters was clearly up for grabs.

If any shot served to bring Johnson back from what could have been a deepening abyss, it was his approach at the par-3 6th. Johnson made birdie from short range to steady himself. When he arrived on the 10th tee the margin had grown to two shots.


DJ played the final nine holes without a hiccup. The key coming at the dangerous par-4 11th. His second shot finished short and to the right of the green. A jeweler’s touch was needed and Johnson responded with a fine pitch to six-feet before downing the putt. Dustin is not prone to much emotion when playing but the rarely seen fist pump showcased a golfer determined not to lose his hold on the green jacket.

From that point onward DJ finished with a trio of birdies starting at the 13th thru 15th. To his credit the two birdies at the par-5 13th and 15th holes came from tactically smart lay-ups and superb wedge approaches. DJ concluded the round with air-tight pars on the final three holes. The toughest assignment he had when leaving the 18th green was consoling his brother / caddie Austin who was in tears given his oldest brother’s glowing achievement.



All in all, Johnson set a new Masters scoring record with a 20-under-par 268 total. That mark bested the previous record of 270 held jointly by Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth. DJ also demonstrated a level of consistency never displayed at Augusta. For the four rounds he made only four bogeys — besting a previous mark held by Jack Nicklaus and Jimm Demaret. Dustin also tied the lowest aggregate score to par with his 20-under total — tying the mark set by Jason Day when winning the 2015 PGA Championship. The five-shot margin was also the largest since Woods epic win in 1997. Add everything up and one word comes to mind — dominant.

For a player long tagged as golf’s greatest talent – Johnson has long sought to deliver on that promise. Many in golf had ascribed the catch phrase “potential” stapled to his strapping 6’4″ frame. For many that association often became an anchor causing them to fold like a cheap suit in the most stressful of situations — otherwise known as the major championships.

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Since his first major triumph at the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont the 36-year-old Johnson has shown a wherewithal to allow various past major championship pratfalls to roll off his back and return with an inner resolve by keeping his foot on the gas pedal. Truly an amazing attribute. 

Over the last nine months Johnson earned player-of-the-year honors for the 2019-2020 season and his scoring in a final round event during that time frame has not had one round over par. In sum — while all the pre-tournament hype was fawning over the power of Bryson DeChambeau — it is Johnson ensconced as the world’s number-one-ranked player. And it is considerable talents that could very well mean a bevy of future major championships now on the horizon.

With DJ donning the famed green jacket the scene from Butler Cabin was unmistakable — golf’s new sheriff is now finding his mojo at the majors. 

Watch out indeed.



MASTERS MEMORIES




Tiger Woods had the task of placing the green jacket on the shoulders of Dustin Johnson but the lasting memory came from his play on Sunday. Most notably, the ignominious 10 he carded on the par-3 12th. The score marked the highest number Woods has ever had while in professional competition. Hitting his tee shot in the water was only the beginning of his painful play. Two other balls followed into Rae’s Creek. To Tiger’s credit he preserved with a flourish — five birdies in the final six holes including a first-time accomplishment in birdieing the final four holes in succession.

Woods started the tournament with a 68 tying his best score during an opening round. However, that was the last time Tiger was truly in the mix and the memory that comes from the 2020 event will be the humility he had to endure during his debacle at the 12th. The deeper question is does Tiger still have the stalking power to compete at the highest level for the full duration of 72 holes?



Sungjae Im displayed vintage form for a Masters rookie. The 22-year-old from South Korea scored the lowest four round total for someone making an initial start in the tournament. Im scored a total 273 which was only three strokes off the former four round record. Much has been written about the performance of South Korean women and now Im is demonstrating that the men’s side of the aisle is clearly on the radar screen. The 2019 PGA TOUR rookie of the year is a clear talent and can quite possibly be the first Asian to don a green jacket when the 85th Masters takes place in April 2021.



Cameron Smith attempted to become the 2nd Aussie to win the Masters and his final round effort showcased a short game wizardry. The 27-year-old fought valiantly with stellar approaches on the 7th and 9th holes — both resulting in birdies. The momentum tapered off on the inward side but the Aussie earned a tie for 2nd with Im and, more importantly, became the first golfer in Masters history to score four consecutive rounds in the 60s.



Rory McIlroy will need to wait till April 2021 to see if he can join golf’s ultimate club — the career Grand Slam winners. McIlroy displayed plenty of grit after his woeful opening round of 75. For the rest of the event his final 54-hole score of 202 was one better than Johnson’s over that stretch of holes. Rory’s story featured stellar play at various times but just when momentum seemed to be building as he headed to the back nine on Sunday, a painful bogey at the 10th put the brakes on his stride.

Amazingly, McIlroy’s last major win came in August of 2014. Just as DJ needed to remove the pressure of lack of major wins, it’s now McIlroy who needs to double down his resolve to return to a winner’s circle that features more dust than actual hardware.



Credit Augusta National organizers for an event that fulfilled the bill given the November time frame. The thunderstorm that interrupted play during the 1st round had officials hurrying about to get players back on schedule. Sunday’s final round was moved up to deal with conflict with the National Football League and all went well.

The decision to have players tee off each nine — a first for the Masters — was the right call. Having players paired in threesomes for the final 36 holes was also prudent. Augusta National played soft for the bulk of the event and players scored accordingly. The wind that emerged during the final round added a bit of mystery as the players entered the home stretch with Rae’s Creek’s presence looming.

Chairman Fred Ridley elevated his stature on a host of fronts — the most notable being when reaching out to Lee Elder, the first African-American to play in the Masters in 1975 — to serve as an honorary starter with Nicklaus and Gary Player for the 2021 Masters. 




Pos.
Player
To Par
R1
R2
R3
R4
Total
1
Dustin Johnson
-20
65
70
65
68
268
T2
Sungjae Im
-15
66
70
68
69
273
T2
Cameron Smith
-15
67
68
69
69
273
4
Justin Thomas
-12
66
69
71
70
276
T5
Dylan Frittelli
-11
65
73
67
72
277
T5
Rory McIlroy
-11
75
66
67
69
277
T7
Brooks Koepka
-10
70
69
69
70
278
T7
Cheng Tsung Pan
-10
70
66
74
68
278
T7
Jon Rahm
-10
69
66
72
71
278
T10
Corey Conners
-9
74
65
71
69
279
T10
Patrick Reed
-9
68
68
71
72
279
T10
Webb Simpson
-9
67
73
71
68
279
T13
Abraham Ancer
-8
68
67
69
76
280
T13
Marc Leishman
-8
70
72
70
68
280
T13
Hideki Matsuyama
-8
68
68
72
72
280
T13
Kevin Na
-8
73
68
69
70
280
T17
Patrick Cantlay
-7
70
66
73
72
281
T17
Xander Schauffele
-7
67
73
71
70
281
T19
Cameron Champ
-6
68
74
68
72
282
T19
Tommy Fleetwood
-6
71
66
71
74
282
T19
Sebastián Muñoz
-6
70
68
69
75
282
T19
Scottie Scheffler
-6
71
68
72
71
282
T23
Louis Oosthuizen *
-5
68
70
75
70
283
T23
Justin Rose *
-5
67
70
76
70
283
T25
Shane Lowry
-4
74
69
68
73
284
T25
Ian Poulter *
-4
72
71
71
70
284
T25
Charl Schwartzel *
-4
73
71
69
71
284
T25
Danny Willett
-4
71
66
74
73
284
T29
Rickie Fowler *
-3
70
70
75
70
285
T29
Sung Kang *
-3
75
69
71
70
285
T29
Bernhard Langer *
-3
68
73
73
71
285
T29
Chez Reavie *
-3
71
72
72
70
285
T29
Nick Taylor *
-3
72
72
69
72
285
T34
Bryson DeChambeau *
-2
70
74
69
73
286
T34
Si Woo Kim *
-2
70
71
73
72
286
T34
Andy Ogletree (a) *
-2
73
70
71
72
286
T34
Adam Scott
-2
70
72
71
73
286
T38
Christiaan Bezuidenhout *
-1
69
73
74
71
287
T38
Paul Casey
-1
65
74
71
77
287
T38
Tony Finau *
-1
69
75
71
72
287
T38
Billy Horschel
-1
70
70
72
75
287
T38
Lee Westwood
-1
68
74
71
74
287
T38
Tiger Woods
-1
68
71
72
76
287
T44
Shugo Imahira *
E
72
70
72
74
288
T44
Collin Morikawa *
E
70
74
70
74
288
T46
Matthew Fitzpatrick *
1
74
70
73
72
289
T46
Charles Howell III *
1
71
70
74
74
289
T46
Victor Perez *
1
70
71
76
72
289
T46
Jordan Spieth *
1
74
70
73
72
289
T46
Matt Wallace
1
69
73
70
77
289
T51
Rafa Cabrera Bello *
2
73
71
74
72
290
T51
Jazz Janewattananond *
2
69
71
75
75
290
T51
Zach Johnson *
2
73
71
73
73
290
T51
Mike Weir *
2
71
72
71
76
290
T55
John Augenstein (a) *
3
69
72
75
75
291
T55
Phil Mickelson *
3
69
70
79
73
291
57
Bubba Watson *
4
74
69
71
78
292
58
Bernd Wiesberger *
6
71
72
78
73
294
59
Brandt Snedeker *
7
71
71
79
74
295
60
Jimmy Walker *
8
71
73
76
76
296
CUT
Byeong Hun An
1
72
73
145
CUT
Adam Hadwin
1
74
71
145
CUT
Max Homa
1
70
75
145
CUT
Matt Kuchar
1
70
75
145
CUT
Graeme McDowell
1
72
73
145
CUT
Andrew Putnam
1
73
72
145
CUT
Henrik Stenson
1
71
74
145
CUT
Gary Woodland
1
72
73
145
CUT
Justin Harding
2
75
71
146
CUT
Brendon Todd
2
73
73
146
CUT
Lanto Griffin
3
74
73
147
CUT
Tyrrell Hatton
3
73
74
147
CUT
Kevin Kisner
3
71
76
147
CUT
Larry Mize
3
70
77
147
CUT
Matthew Wolff
3
70
77
147
CUT
Jason Day
4
70
78
148
CUT
Tyler Duncan
4
77
71
148
CUT
Jason Kokrak
4
71
77
148
CUT
J.T. Poston
4
73
75
148
CUT
James Sugrue (a)
4
77
71
148
CUT
Fred Couples
6
77
73
150
CUT
Lukas Michel (a)
6
76
74
150
CUT
Francesco Molinari
6
72
78
150
CUT
Lucas Glover
7
77
74
151
CUT
Nate Lashley
7
75
76
151
CUT
Sandy Lyle
7
78
73
151
CUT
Yuxin Lin (a)
8
79
73
152
CUT
José María Olazábal
14
78
80
158
CUT
Abel Gallegos (a)
16
79
81
160
CUT
Andrew Landry
16
78
82
160
WD
Vijay Singh
8
75
75
WD
Erik van Rooyen
4
76
76