2020 Masters

DJ was dominant.

Jim Rome
November 16, 2020 - 9:39 am
Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods

USA Today

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Sunday at the Masters is always going to produce moments. That’s just how it is. And it doesn’t matter if that Sunday is in April or November, you could have it any time of year, it’s going to deliver.

And there were some moments yesterday. Like Tiger Woods doing a mini-Tin Cup on 12 and finding the water off the tee, which I’ll get to later. Because that was a moment. A historic moment: not the kind of history the big cat was looking to make but make he did.  No one can rip that green jacket from him that he ripped last year; and no one can rip that 10 on 12 from either. Like he really did bounce his escalade off a tree in the middle of the night and he really did card a 10 on Sunday at the Masters. 

But Nothing anyone did yesterday really mattered that much because nobody was running down Dustin Johnson. Because DJ was the one making legitimate history.

He finished at 20-under, winning by five. The lowest score in history. The lowest score to par in major championship history. The largest margin of victory at the Masters since Tiger in 1997.

Is that any good? Let me put it another way, Cameron Smith goes 67-68-69-69. He was the first golfer in 84 years to have four rounds in the 60s at The Masters and he still lost by five shots. 

That just shows you how dominant Dustin Johnson was. And it shouldn’t be a surprise. There’s never been any question about his game. The question has been about his head.

His game was good enough to have him entering the final day of a major with the lead or a share of it, time and time again. And then it would go wrong. Really wrong and really weird. The Sunday 82 at Pebble Beach. The collapse at Chambers Bay. The three-putts at Shinnecock Hills.

And let’s not even talk about the grounded club at Whistling Straits.

He put a lot of that rep to bed after winning the 2016 US Open. And then he completely buried it yesterday.

But still, it would be the most Dustin Johnson thing ever to win the Masters by the margin that he did and not actually know until the 72nd hole what the actual score was. It was somewhere on 18 that he turned to his caddie, his brother Austin, and said “Where do we stand?”

That is so awesome and so Dustin Johnson. And so fitting given that according to Bob Harig, a few years back, another player on tour said, "You ever hear of that movie, 'Dumb and Dumber?''' and then pointed at Dustin and Austin.

Well, Lloyd Christmas and Harold Dunne just got themselves a green jacket and a moment like this on 18 at Augusta National.

The crazy thing is – guys on tour might jab Dustin for not being Albert Einstein, but they seem to do it affectionately. That’s part of what makes Dustin Johnson Dustin Johnson.

So what if the guy jacks up his back lifting a jet ski now and then, allegedly. Or falls down the stairs, allegedly. That is part of the beauty of Dustin Johnson. And no, I really don’t need any reference to the booger sugar either right about now: keep that sugar out your booger. Or something like that. Stay on topic: stay on the fact that this dude went absolute legend yesterday. 

Dumb? Or mentally one of the strongest dudes out there: yeah, I said it. He ran into some legit adversity on the front nine with bogeys at four and five that cut his lead to just one, and then immediately reset himself, and bounced back with birdies on 6 and 8. And then went birdie-birdie-birdie on 13 through 15.

He turned that potential choke job on the front nine into a victory lap on the back nine on Sunday afternoon at Augusta. That is so incredibly difficult and he did it like it was nothing at all. Because it probably was nothing to him. Because he’s etiher really dumb, or really strong mentally. 

While you’ve got some guys out there looking to impress you with their knowledge, this guy is just out there swinging sticks and knocking a ball in the hole better than anyone else on the planet.

Is he going to split the atom anytime soon? Probably not. But does he need to? Seriously. If your knock on Dustin Johnson is that he’s not the smartest dude on the planet, my response would be: and? So? Believe me, if we were all that dumb, the world might be a better place. Seriously. 

Take: Bryson is smart as hell; dude is damn near a physicist. And how’d that work out for him this week? He finished 34th. If they add a math section to the Masters or comparative literature essay to the US Open, maybe I’d worry about Dustin, but this is about trying to get the lowest number over 72 holes. It’s pretty simple.

Not only does his approach work, it might be the best approach there is. It certainly seems pretty enjoyable. That was a guy playing Sunday in the Masters, the possibility of living out his childhood dream just a few holes away, and he wasn’t feeling any pressure at all.  I’m not sure he was feeling ANYTHING AT ALL. FIND ME ONE ATHLETE, ON THE BIGGEST STAGE, THAT WOULDN’T WANT THAT SENSE OF CALM???  DUMB? THAT’S ACTUALLY BRILLIANT.

The best way to beat the pressure is to not know there is any pressure. That’s genius. Zen mind, beginner’s mind. If your head is empty, that means it’s not full of distractions and things that can derail you.

He is the number one player in the world and just broke numerous records at Augusta National, I DON’T NEED TO KNOW THIS DUDE’S IQ BECAUSE I ALREADY KNOW HIS FINAL 72 HOLE SCORE.

For all the talk about shaft length and angles and science going into this tournament, it was won by the guy with maybe the simplest approach. As Rory McIlroy said last week, Johnson’s approach is: “See ball, hit ball, see putt, hole putt, go to the next.”

While everyone was talking about the absence of detailed green-reading books, Johnson adjusted by keeping it as simple as possible, by sampling drawing  a line on his ball.

"I started using the line on the ball so I know where I'm aiming, instead of guessing where I'm aiming. It's definitely helped."

That is the truth. And so if the fact that he may seem relaxed, and talks a little slower than most, but that doesn't mean he doesn't want it. He does. Badly. And you could tell how much that jacket means to him. You saw a guy who usually shows no emotional at all, choke once it was over. Don’t say this dude doesn’t’ care: he does. 

And so is this last gem about how hard it is to win a first major. “The first major's the hardest, but then I would say the second one is just as hard.”

Maybe so…but I’m guessing the third won’t be: just as I can guarantee that there will be another.  And probably more than that. He’s that good.