AUGUSTA, Ga. — Dustin Johnson didn’t know the Masters scoring report when he broke it in November. (It was 18 below par; now it’s 20.) He didn’t know the place he stood on the leaderboard till the opening earlier than he received. (He had a five-stroke lead.) However he is aware of the three individuals who have received two straight Masters.
“Actually?” stated honored AP reporter Doug Ferguson, who had requested the query at Tuesday’s pre-tournament press convention. “I’m sorry to be stunned.”
Each he and Johnson dissolved into laughter; Johnson has not beforehand proven himself to be a lot of a historian.
Now, to be honest to the fame, Johnson didn’t truly identify the three males who’ve gone back-to-back. (Jack Nicklaus, in 1965 and ’66; Nick Faldo, in ’89 and ’90; and Tiger Woods, in 2001 and ’02.) However Johnson’s genius doesn’t manifest in his capacity to provide trivia; it reveals itself on the golf course. And whether or not he can truly establish that trio or not, he understands why nobody has joined it.
“It is a powerful event to win,” Johnson stated. “You are going to need to put 4 good rounds collectively, particularly with the circumstances, like regular circumstances. You have to do all the things properly. And with it agency and quick, it is simply a actually laborious golf course as a result of clearly any gap at any time can leap out and get you. So, you understand, it is simply very powerful to win, I imply, to win as soon as, and particularly a number of instances.”
Seventeen males have received multiple Masters, however most of them did it when the images of their inexperienced jackets had been in black and white. Since Woods received his first, in 1997, solely three males have received greater than as soon as (Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson), and solely Woods has gone back-to-back.
Ben Hogan almost did it, in 1954. As an alternative he went to a playoff with Sam Snead, three-putted No. 16 and misplaced by one stroke. The outcome “preserved the custom that no Masters champion ever repeats the subsequent 12 months,” stated the AP story the subsequent day. Doug Ford had a likelihood at it in ’58, however he parred the ultimate 10 holes on Sunday to complete a stroke behind Arnold Palmer. Palmer fell sufferer to the identical custom in ’61, when he held a one-shot lead over Gary Participant on the 18th tee. He made double bogey. Tom Watson got here shut in ’78, however he missed his par putt on No. 18 and completed a stroke again of Participant. In 2016, defending champion Jordan Spieth led by 5 coming into the again 9 on Sunday, however a quadruple bogey on No. 12 ended his back-to-back try.
Johnson has a shot at doing what none of them may. If he succeeds, he’ll utterly rewrite the narrative surrounding him.
He was lengthy thought of the very best regular-event participant of his technology, with 22 wins in non-majors. However apart from his victory on the 2016 U.S. Open, at Oakmont, he appeared to have a exceptional capacity to break down in huge moments. On the ’10 U.S. Open, at Pebble Seashore, he entered Sunday with a three-stroke lead … and promptly shot an 82. On the ’10 PGA Championship, at Whistling Straits, he had a one-stroke lead with one gap to play … and made bogey and took a two-stroke penalty for grounding his membership in a bunker. On the ’15 U.S. Open, at Chambers Bay, he was tied for the lead coming into Sunday … then made three bogeys on the again 9.
After the third spherical of the 2020 PGA Championship, Johnson held the lead, two strokes forward of his good friend, four-time major-winner Brooks Koepka.
“I like my possibilities,” Koepka stated. “After I’ve been on this place earlier than, I’ve capitalized. I don’t know, he’s solely received one.”
Collin Morikawa received that occasion. However a win this week would put the report since Koepka’s swipe at Johnson 2, Koepka 0. Immediately DJ could be within the dialog for finest major-winner of his technology.
Though this is similar course because the final main—a pandemic-induced quirk—it’ll play a lot in another way. In November, Johnson dominated an Augusta Nationwide whose greens had been sluggish and whose tough was thick. This week, the forecast requires solar, which ought to agency up the greens. Followers, allowed again on the course, will assist trample down the shorter tough. Golfers must be extra exact about the place they put the ball. Johnson would possibly properly find yourself atop the leaderboard once more. Not that he’ll look.