Check in each day of this week’s Masters for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors as they break down the hottest topic in the tournament, and join the conversation by tweeting us @golf_com.
Five players led at the start of the third round of the Masters. One led at the end. The world No. 1, Dustin Johnson, who continued his 2020 blitz with a seven-under 65 for a 16-under total and a four-shot lead over Sungjae Im, Abraham Ancer and Cameron Smith. Five back is Dylan Frittelli, and six back is Justin Thomas. Will Johnson drop the hammer on the field and win his first Masters and second major overall? Or will someone else make a run? At the end of Sunday, who will be wearing the green jacket?
Jessica Marksbury, multimedia editor (@Jess_Marksbury): I know DJ has some scar tissue when it comes to major championship Sundays, but I find it hard to fathom a reality in which he does not get the job done tomorrow. Before Thursday’s first round, DJ had never even fired a bogey-free round at Augusta. Ever! Now he’s done it twice in one week. That said, he has yet to endure a big mistake. But his lead is so large that I think he could still withstand a disaster. Plus, the likeliest players on the leaderboard to give him a run — those with experience, like Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka – are simply too far behind to factor.
Josh Berhow, managing editor (@Josh_Berhow): Dustin Johnson has been here before in majors (and struggled), but four strokes is one heck of a head start. He’s played brilliantly this week and hasn’t shot anything worse than 70 in his past seven Masters rounds. I think a patron-less final round will help alleviate some nerves, and he’ll shoot a solid but not spectacular round and win his second major title.
Josh Sens, senior writer (@JoshSens): Dewey Wins! I mean, DJ Wins. That’s a headline you can trust. Any number of guys could make a run, and a few likely will (Rahm and Thomas being the most obvious candidates), but DJ seems to be in that run-away-and-hide mode we’ve seen from him before. If he goes out and plays his B or C game, he’ll still shoot 70, which means someone behind him will have to post a 65 or 66. And I don’t foresee DJ bringing his B or C game. In short: count on a laconic ceremony in Butler Cabin on Sunday night.
Alan Bastable, executive editor (@alan_bastable): Buddy of mine (s/o Jake Doran) made an astute observation a few months back. He predicted the fan-free, low-key, no-fuss vibe on Tour in 2020 would be particularly beneficial to low-key, no-fuss Dustin Johnson. DJ could just go about his business without all the other hubbub that usually surrounds tournaments, especially the majors. I think that’s very much been the case for DJ at Augusta this week. This hasn’t been true for all players — Rory, Brooks, JT and many others feed off the galleries – and struggle to focus without them. To Johnson, and this is just a gut feeling, I think fans are probably more of distraction than anything else. All of which is to say, on the tranquil grounds of ANGC on Sunday, he’ll cruise. This thing is oh-vah.
Dylan Dethier, senior writer (@dylan_dethier): Let’s reason this one out. With Sunday pins and still-soft Augusta, somebody else is going to get to 16 under — maybe even to 17 or 18. Dustin Johnson is playing this place like it’s a par-68. By that metric, he’ll need to shoot about two-over-par 70 to put this thing on ice. I say he does it, despite a commendable 65 from Justin Thomas.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer: Johnson. He playing too well. This week, and most of the year.
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer (@alanshipnuck): The most macho thing in golf is when you go out in the last group on Sunday and shoot the lowest round. I think Dustin is going to do that and destroy the field, a fitting coronation for a guy who has always seemed destined to win here.
Luke Kerr-Dineen, director of game improvement (@LukeKerrDineen): DJ’s winning this one, by a lot. He was in such a groove today; the living embodiment of playing golf on autopilot. He made it look so easy and he’s built up enough of a lead that, at this point, it’s past the point of no return. He’ll rifle-in a few more birdies early tomorrow, and by the time he reaches the turn, we’ll be in coronation mode.
Nick Piastowski, senior editor (@nickpia): I could see where it could get interesting. A lot of the comments above have talked about DJ being “relaxed” and on “cruise control,” but you know what you don’t want to be on Sunday at Augusta – “relaxed” and on “cruise control.” An easy-going 70 opens the door for a few folks who have their foot on the gas. That all being said, DJ is playing some of the best golf of his life, maybe in anyone’s life, and the players close to him are lacking in major championship pedigree. I guess I kind of answered the question both ways, so I guess what I’m saying is, I wouldn’t mind seeing some Sunday drama.
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