Dustin Johnson Reflects on Masters Triumph
DUSTIN JOHNSON is a famously laidback individual - somewhere approaching the horizontal. So it comes as something of a surprise to learn that he suffered an attack of the nerves on the final day of The Masters at Augusta National last November.
He would be the first to admit that he is not the brightest light in the house but that has helped him because, put simply, he and his caddie brother Austin do not overthink things.
DJ revealed that he slept well enough on the eve of the final round, where he held a four-shot lead. It was only when he sat down for breakfast that the magnitude of what lay ahead struck him.
“I had come down to have some coffee and my breakfast, but I had a really hard time eating,” he said. Breakfast would normally consists of a giant omelet, a large bowl of cereal and some fruit. But on Masters Sunday, it was all he could do to manage a couple of bites. “I barely ate anything,” he said.
Johnson keeps things low-key during tournament weeks, spending time with his sons when he’s away from the golf course. But this was different. He found himself twiddling his thumbs so decided to head to the course. And he left his rented house without picking up the mid-day snacks his personal chef had prepared.
“I was really nervous, too, on the first tee.” Johnson said. “Obviously I’ve got the lead in The Masters for the first time. I mean, I was feeling’ it.” With only members and their guests on-site, just a couple of dozen patrons watched as he hit a three wood into the fairway. After two-putting for par, Johnson was feeling better.
But it wasn’t long before his four-shot lead had been trimmed to just one over Sungjae Im. Johnson had bogeyed the fourth and fifth holes.
“It still didn’t rattle me because on the fourth I felt like a made a good swing, just caught it a little high on the face. Came up a little short,” he said. “Probably should have chipped that ball, but after the chip I hit on the second…”
After short-siding himself on the par-five second hole, Johnson had chunked his chip into a greenside bunker. On the third hole his short chip skidded 10 feet beyond the hole. He put the wedge away on the fourth and putted from off the green, lipping out the par-saver. Were we about to witness yet another Johnson meltdown in a major?
He took a deep breath, stuck his approach on the sixth green inside 10 feet and made birdie to reclaim a three-shot lead. He glanced at the scoreboard and told himself: “It doesn’t matter. I’m going to play as good as I can play from here to the house, and see what happens.”
But he still couldn’t face food. While walking down the seventh fairway, Johnson grabbed a sandwich. “I took one bite and couldn’t even swallow it. My mouth was so dry. I had to chug water just to get a little bit of it down. I didn’t even try to eat anything after that.”
The bogey he made at the fifth would be the last shot he would drop. Birdies on the eighth, 13th, 14th and 15th pushed him further clear of the pack. He claims he had no idea where he stood in relation to the rest of the field, not until he was walking up 18 and Austin Johnson confirmed a five-shot lead, to which DJ responded, “Alright, I think I can get it in from here.”
And finally, after donning the Green Jacket, Johnson attended the winner's dinner later that night and got stuck into a healthy meal.
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