November 16, 2020

Masterful! It was his time

Dustin Johnson put on a display of unswerving power, finesse, and cool determination to dominate the fall edition of the Masters. It was not a surprise that Johnson could dominate in such a manner, but maybe it was a surprise that he hadn't done it before. Augusta National is unforgiving when players make a mental mistake. The best players in the world were there to claim glory, but everyone else except Dustin made critical judgement errors that cost them their chance to win. Johnson's victory was more convincing then the five shot margin over second place, because no one else was in his league this week.

It is true that Augusta National played different in the fall. The greens were softer; drives didn't roll as far and were easier to remain in the fairways; green speeds were a little slower and generally easier to pitch to. The lack of spectators was definitely a drawback to the atmosphere and drama that this tournament creates, but you soon forgot that and the importance and seriousness on the players faces made you know this was a major championship. The course still had its teeth and based on the number of double and triple bogies that were on most players' cards, the course definitely wasn't playing easy.

Justin Thomas finished a distant fourth, eight shots behind Dustin Johnson. He was the nearest top ten player in the world that had a chance to challenge Dustin. He was not able to be consistent and avoid the big mistakes. Rory McIlroy finished a shot back of Justin, but Rory lost the tournament on the first day with a three over par 75. After that it was just a nice comeback, but he had no chance to win. Jon Rahm was right there in the middle of the third round, but a topped three wood and poor judgment sent him out of contention. Winning a Masters jacket requires consistency and smart play. All three will have their chances in the future and will learn from their mistakes. Augusta National is a fickle mistress that cannot be taken for granted.

Cameron Smith and Sungjae Im shared second place at fifteen under par, a total that most years would win the title. Although both scored well, neither showed the game that wins this tournament. Their scrambling and recovery shots were outstanding, but in crunch time and in a closer contest, I don't think either could pull off the shots necessary to win. Johnson's shotmaking and precision were outstanding and didn't leave much room for anyone to make up ground. It would have taken a career, mistake free, best from a world class player to threaten Dustin this week.

The talk of the tournament before the first shot was played belonged to Bryson DeChambeau. Was he going to overpower the golf course and drive greens and make Augusta National obsolete? That didn't happen. He did hit some prodigious drives that made some holes play very easy, but he also hit many off line that cost him being in contention. He did make eighteen birdies and one eagle, but these were offset by a triple bogie, double bogies and numerous missed shots. He was either very good or just bad. He did say that he was not feeling his best and there was a bit of dizziness that needs to be addressed. One thing that he can take from this is that he now has a test run of his new strategy and can judge what works and what could work. He should be fully healthy and ready to make a better run at the 2021 Masters this coming spring.

This Masters belonged to Dustin Johnson. The play was masterful. His power was on full display, but his accuracy was even more impressive. His improved short game and putting were sharp. This was the Dustin Johnson that we kept expecting to show up in a major at any time for the past ten years. Now he has two major titles and is physically and mentally able to continue this level of excellence for many years to come. Will he continue? Time will tell, but for this week potential was realized and Dustin Johnson fulfilled his dream and became a Masters champion. It was Masterful!


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