What if Dustin Johnson could blend that smooth-as-Georgia-peach-ice-cream demeanor with that sweet-as-a-pimento-pepper swing? What if he hadn’t tripped up at those previous major championships? The 2010 U.S. Open, where he led by three entering Sunday. The 2010 PGA Championship and the grounded club. The 2015 U.S. Open and the three-putt on 18. The 2018 U.S. Open, where the weekend came. This year’s PGA Championship, where he led by one entering the final round. And let’s not forget an actual trip, at the 2017 Masters, where he entered Augusta National fresh off three-straight victories, only to fall down some stairs the day before the tournament, forcing him to withdraw.
How would history talk about Dustin Johnson? How many major titles would he have won besides his lonely one, at the 2016 U.S. Open? How many times would he have slid one arm in, then the other, into a green jacket on the 18th?
You’d get something that looked a whole lot like Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the 2020 Masters, that’s what.
A bogey-free, seven-under 65 in the first round, followed by a two-under 70, followed by another bogey-free, seven-under 65 in the third round, followed by a shaky-at-the-start-but-steady-at-the-end, four-under 68 in the final round: Put it all together, and you get a 20-under total at this first November Masters, a five-shot victory for Johnson over Sungjae Im and Cameron Smith and his first green jacket, and second major overall.
It caps, too, what was 2020’s finest overall performance. A rise back to world No. 1. Four victories total, including the Tour Championship. Top 10s in all three majors.
Johnson started Sunday with a four-shot lead over Im, Smith and Abraham Ancer, then saw it drop to one, over Im, after five holes. Back-to-back bogeys, on 4 and 5, hurt. Birdies on 6 and 8 helped, and after he rolled in a 13-footer for birdie on the par-5 13th, his lead was back to the four he started the day with. He would add birdies on the 14th and 15th for the 20-under total, the Masters scoring record by two strokes.
Im and Smith finished five shots behind Johnson, with Smith becoming the first player in Masters history to shoot all four rounds in the 60s. Justin Thomas finished fourth, eight shots behind Johnson, and Rory McIlroy and Dylan Frittelli finished tied for fifth, nine shots back.
The next major, in five months, will be right back in Augusta, Ga.: the 2021 Masters.
The big takeaway
Let the debates begin. Where does Johnson’s Masters win rank all time? Where does his year rank all time? Where does Johnson himself rank all time?
The big shots
- Dustin Johnson begins the final round at 16 under and holds a four-shot lead over Im, Ancer and Smith, a five-shot lead over Frittelli, and a six-shot lead over Thomas.
- Johnson pars the 575-yard, par-5 2nd after hitting his third shot, from 30 yards away, short and into a bunker. He stays at 16 under and leads by three shots over Smith and Im, who birdies the 2nd.
- Johnson birdies the 350-yard, par-4 3rd to move to 17 under and three ahead of Smith and Im, who also birdied the hole.
- Johnson bogeys the 240-yard, par-3 4th after hitting his tee shot short of the green to move to 16 under and two ahead of Im and three ahead of Smith.
- Johnson bogeys the 495-yard, par-4 5th after hitting his tee shot into a fairway bunker to move to 15 under and one ahead of Im and two ahead of Smith.
- Johnson birdies the 180-yard, par-3 6th after hitting his tee shot within 7 feet to move back to 16 under. He leads by three over Im, who bogeys the hole, and Smith.
- Johnson birdies the 570-yard, par-5 8th to move to 17 under, and he leads by three shots over Smith and four over Im.
- Johnson birdies the 510-yard, par-5 13th to move to 18 under, and he leads by four shots over Smith and Im, who also birdies the hole.
- Johnson birdies the 440-yard, par-4 14th to move to 19 under, and he leads by five shots over Smith and Im.
- Johnson birdies the 530-yard, par-5 15th to move to 20 under, and he leads by five shots over Smith and Im, who also birdied the hole.
- Johnson pars the 465-yard, par-4 18th to win the Masters at 20 under.