Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 30 November 2020

Dustin Johnson finally wins Masters with record low score

American golfer overcomes shaky start to final round to seal his second major

Dustin Johnson finally clinched an elusive second major title with a five-stroke victory at the Masters on Sunday, as he overcame a shaky start to his final round to end with a tournament-record low score at Augusta National.

Johnson led throughout the final round, though only by one stroke early, and did not drop a shot in the final 13 holes on his way to a four-under-par 68 and an unprecedented 20-under-par 268 total.

Australian Cameron Smith and South Korean Im Sung-jae kept Johnson honest, both shooting 69 to tie for second on 15-under, but in the end they had no answer to the champion.

"I was nervous all day," Johnson said in the traditional Butler Cabin interview before being presented with the Green Jacket by last year's champion Tiger Woods.

"I could feel it. The Masters to me is the biggest tournament, the one I wanted to win the most.

"Having Tiger put the Green Jacket on you, it still feels like a dream ... I couldn't be more excited."

Dustin Johnson of the United States is awarded the Green Jacket by Masters champion Tiger Woods of the United States during the Green Jacket Ceremony after winning the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. AFP 
Dustin Johnson of the United States is awarded the Green Jacket by Masters champion Tiger Woods of the United States during the Green Jacket Ceremony after winning the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. AFP

Johnson, from nearby Columbia, South Carolina, did not get to enjoy what would have been a magnificent reception from the gallery at the 18th green.

Instead, he received polite applause from the several hundred people allowed on-site, with paying patrons absent this year due to coronavirus restrictions.

The victory, however, will go a long way to cementing the 36-year-old Johnson's reputation as a pre-eminent player of his generation.

He previously won the 2016 US Open, but before Sunday was 0-4 when leading into the final round at majors and had a reputation of frequently not rising to the occasion in the biggest moments.

Among his near misses was a tie for second behind Woods at last year's Masters.

Early nerves

Earlier, Johnson teed off with a four-shot advantage just as a morning fog cleared away and a breeze sprang up for the first time all week.

After successive bogeys at the fourth and fifth holes his lead was briefly down to one with Im then hot on his heels.

Johnson looked as calm as ever on the outside, but inside his stomach must have been churning.

Yet at the 180-yard par-three sixth, he took dead aim from on top of the hill, and his ball never looked like ending anywhere but near the pin.

It settled seven feet away and he converted the birdie, while Im bogeyed the same hole for a two-shot swing.

"That settled me down a little bit. From there I really drove it real well to the house," Johnson said.

Johnson later had a two-putt birdie at the par-five eighth but Smith, in the group ahead, was not ready to give up the fight.

He played a superb if slightly lucky approach shot at the par-four ninth, where his ball barely skirted a bunker before taking a fortuitous roll down the slope to set up a four-foot birdie.

Johnson, however, never led by less than two shots on the back nine, and three straight birdies from the 13th allowed him to breathe easier and enjoy his march to victory over the closing holes.

"It's always tough to get it done at a major no matter how good you are," he said.

Updated: November 16, 2020 09:46 AM

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