But in reviewing what Johnson accomplished with a final-round 68 that matched the day’s best score — putting behind a case of the coronavirus earlier this fall, suppressing some personal demons of past majors gone awry, dusting Australia’s Cameron Smith and South Korea’s Sungjae Im to win his first green jacket — don’t dismiss the following notion: He could have collapsed. He might even have been collapsing. And he didn’t.
“It was still hard,” Johnson said. “I mean, I was nervous all day.”
Dustin Johnson, nervous on a golf course? Please. The man wouldn’t get nervous if you rubbed him in bacon grease and locked him in a lion’s cage. He is the No. 1 player in the world. Give him a four-shot lead and 18 holes to finish at Augusta National Golf Club, and would his palms even sweat?
“I can’t answer for him,” said his brother, Austin, who also serves as his caddie, “but it damn sure was nerve-racking for me.”
We will get to the specifics in a moment. First, because we know how it worked out — Johnson’s back-to-back bogeys at the fourth and fifth holes Sunday were his only bogeys of the final 48 holes of the tournament, and he cruised to the win — it’s important to acknowledge what Johnson overcame in winning his second major. Namely, the notion that he couldn’t do it. His previous major victory came at the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont, when he came from behind.
In four other majors, the Saturday night lead had not been kind to Johnson. His stare might be blank. His shoulders may shrug. Still, all that weighed on him.
“I proved to myself that I do have it because I’m sure a lot of y’all think . . . ” and he surveyed a room of socially distanced sportswriters before catching himself. “Or, even I — there was doubts in my mind just because I had been there. I’m in this position a lot of times. Like, when am I going to have the lead and finish off the golf tournament or finish off a major?”
That is uncommon candor from the 36-year-old. The scars might be covered — by his beard, by his jacket, by his poker face. But they’re there.
“It definitely hurt,” Austin Johnson said. “But you learn a lot from those losses.”
If he had learned, he would have to deploy the lessons early Sunday. Austin Johnson accurately described the start as “skittish.” Dustin’s first tee shot found a bunker. At the par-5 second, he had a chip shot over a greenside bunker — and tried to get, as Austin said, “too cute.” He deposited the ball directly into the bunker.
“I was trying to hit a shot I probably shouldn’t have tried to hit,” Johnson said.
Which is exactly how four-hole leads in majors evaporate. By the time he failed to get up and down at the difficult par-3 fourth, making his first bogey since Friday, and then drove it into the deep left-side bunkers at the par-4 fifth — another bogey — a skittish start had officially become worrisome. Im, an accomplished player ranked among the top 25 in the world, birdied two of his first five holes. As the final group headed to the sixth tee, Johnson’s lead was a single shot.
“He is always pretty much the same D.J. — laid back, pretty calm,” Austin Johnson said. “You can’t tell if we’re coming down the stretch of a major or if we’re laying on the couch watching football by his reactions.”
Yet Augusta National — no matter whether galleries line the place — doesn’t offer the Red Zone Channel on Sundays. So Johnson had only the golf ahead of him. He had to right himself.
“It was a battle all day,” he said, “just an internal battle with myself.”
The battle was won, then, at the sixth — a 180-yard, downhill par-3. With his lead slipping away, Johnson hit third after Im and fellow playing partner Abraham Ancer. He pulled an 8-iron. And he hit the shot that restored his round — that beautiful, simple swing, six feet right of the pin. He rolled in the birdie putt. Im, meanwhile, made a bogey.
“That kind of, obviously, helped the nerves a little bit,” Johnson said.
From there, the blowout took shape. Johnson made nary a misstep the rest of the way.
“This was an opportunity for him to kind of flip the script and kind of change the narrative,” said Claude Harmon III, Johnson’s swing coach. “I think the narrative now looks very different than it looked last night, with four 54-hole leads [in majors that yielded zero wins]. He’s a hell of a golfer. He doesn’t get enough credit for being the golfer he is.”
After that birdie at 6, his confidence carried him. He birdied the remaining three par-5s and threw in another birdie at the 14th. When he and his brother finally reached the 18th fairway, Johnson asked a question: Where do I stand?
“I told him he had a five-shot lead,” Austin Johnson said. “I could kick it in from there.”
“I think I can handle this one,” Dustin Johnson responded. When he made his closing par, Paulina Gretzky — daughter of hockey legend Wayne, Johnson’s partner and the mother of his two kids — arrived, teary-eyed, for a long-awaited kiss. Johnson grew up in Columbia, S.C., just more than an hour away. When he saw Bubba Watson, the two-time Masters champ, sporting his blazer just off the 18th green, he beamed, “I’ve been dreaming of putting that jacket on my whole life.”
So when five-time Masters champ Tiger Woods, of all people, finally slipped the size 42 long green jacket on Johnson as he stood on the practice green, the dream was almost too much to handle. To the side of the practice green, Woods hugged Austin Johnson, saying into his ear, “I’m so proud of you, man.” For everyone else, the tension was over.
Yet on the green, as Dustin Johnson began his interview with CBS’s Amanda Balionis, he looked as unsteady as he ever has on a golf course. Wobblier than shooting an 82 on Sunday in the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. More uncertain than when he unknowingly grounded his club at the 2010 PGA Championship, a penalty that cost him a place in a playoff. As disbelieving as when he three-putted away a chance at the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. Balionis’s questions were simple. Johnson, seemingly always on autopilot, suddenly couldn’t steer.
“I’m sorry,” he said, and he tried to blink his eyes clear. “It’s hard to talk.”
Balionis tried again, and Johnson sighed. He wiped one eye, then both eyes. He apologized again. He shifted his weight.
“I’ve never had this much trouble gathering myself,” he finally managed.
On Sunday, he gathered himself after that skittish start. He proved the best golfer in the world could play his best golf when it mattered most. And he walked away with the green jacket, forever his.
The live updates below were reported by Matt Bonesteel in Washington.
Dustin Johnson wins 2020 Masters
By Matt Bonesteel
Dustin Johnson entered the final round of this year’s Masters with a four-shot lead, the fifth time in his career that he led a major championship after 54 holes. The previous four, including the PGA Championship just three short months ago, ended with Johnson looking up at someone else on the leader board.
The fifth, most emphatically, did not.
After a few minor stumbles early, Johnson steadied himself Sunday and simply ran away from the field for his first Masters title, his score of 20-under-par 268 bettering the Masters-record 270s recorded first by Tiger Woods in 1997 and matched by Jordan Spieth in 2015.
Australia’s Cameron Smith and South Korea’s Sungjae Im tied for second, five strokes back. Justin Thomas was another three behind that pair, his fourth-place finish the best of his Masters career.
What drama there was Sunday ended before the end of the front nine. Showing rare imprecision off the tee and on the green, Johnson bogeyed holes No. 4 and 5 to give Smith and Im at least a glimmer of hope, their deficit at the time shaved to just two strokes. But Johnson bounced back with birdies at Nos. 6 and 8 and then reeled off three straight midway through the back nine to erase any small doubt that may have still been lingering.
The list of superlatives is long for Johnson, who became the third golfer to win a major championship at 20 under par (Jason Day at the 2015 PGA Championship and Henrik Stenson at the 2016 British Open were the others). He became the first golfer to win the Masters by at least five strokes since Woods’s 12-stroke demolition of the field in 1997. And he carded only four bogeys over 72 holes, beating the previous Masters champion’s low by one.
Smith, who delivered the two shots of the day with adventurous approaches out of the right-side rough on the front nine, became the first player in Masters history with four rounds in the 60s, yet he still couldn’t catch Johnson (who shot a 70 in the second round).
Both Smith and Im set the record for low score by a nonwinner. The 15 under par they both shot would have won all but six previous Masters.
But this year, that low score simply wasn’t good enough to catch the newest golfer to wear the green jacket after a record-setting four days.
Andy Ogletree wins Masters low amateur
By Matt Bonesteel
Andy Ogletree added to his list of impressive early-career credentials by securing low-amateur honors Sunday at the Masters. His even-par 72 in the final round put him at 2 under par for the tournament and in a tie for 34th with a number of golfers still on the course.
Ogletree, 22, won the 2019 U.S. Amateur with a 2-and-1 victory over John Augenstein, who also made the cut this year at the Masters. After a 3-under first round put him near the top of the Masters leader board, Augenstein played the remaining 54 holes at 6 over with consecutive 75s on Saturday and Sunday. He’s currently in 55th place.
Ogletree was a two-time all-American at Georgia Tech, from which he graduated earlier this year. The U.S. Amateur win earned him a spot in the Masters, the U.S. Open (he missed the cut) and the British Open, which this year was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Masters low amateur has finished under par in consecutive tournaments for the first time ever. Viktor Hovland, now a PGA Tour pro, finished 3 under in 2019.
Dustin Johnson is the first player ever to reach 20 under at the Masters
By Matt Bonesteel
With a birdies at Nos. 14 and 15, Dustin Johnson became just the first player to reach 20 under par at the Masters. He passed Jordan Spieth, who got to 19 under during his 2015 triumph before falling back one stroke to win at 18 under. That final score matched the tournament record set by Tiger Woods in 1997.
Johnson’s game wasn’t as flawless over the front nine Sunday as it was for the entirety of Saturday’s round, but his 1-under-par 31 was still good enough for a two-stroke lead over Cameron Smith and a four-stroke lead over Sungjae Im.
Johnson ran into trouble at the par-3 fourth hole, one of the more difficult holes on the course, when his tee shot stopped short of the green and his putt from the fringe stopped about eight feet short of the hole.
Trying to save par, Johnson’s putt grazed off the inside lip and trickled away, and he left with a bogey.
Johnson followed that with a tee shot into a fairway bunker at the fifth hole, eliminating any chance of a bounce-back birdie. He managed to get within reasonable distance to save par, but this time his putt was weak and never had a chance. Johnson’s third and fourth bogeys of the tournament dropped his lead to just one stroke over Sungjae Im, who had an errant approach at No. 5 but recovered with an immaculate chip from the rough to save par.
The recovery started at the par-3 sixth hole when Johnson stuck his tee shot within six feet and made birdie. It continued at the par-5 eighth when Johnson made the green in two and two-putted for another birdie.
Tiger Woods finishes well after carding septuple-bogey 10 at No. 12
By Matt Bonesteel
Tiger Woods’s nearly nonexistent chances of catching Dustin Johnson were given their last rites at the par-3 12th hole when the defending Masters champion put three shots into Rae’s Creek.
Woods’s tee shot cleared the water but spun back into it, and he followed that with another spin-back into the drink after taking the penalty stroke. His blast out of a bunker behind the green, taken from an awkward stance, flew over the green, bounced once and once again was submerged.
The septuple-bogey 10 Woods carded was his highest-ever score on a par 3 in a major championship. It also was his highest-ever score on any hole at the Masters (he previously had twice carded an 8). In fact, it’s the first time he carded a 10 in any PGA Tour event.
Woods recovered nicely after the calamity at No. 12 with birdies on five of his last six holes. In the end, he shot a 4-over-par 76 for the day and finished the tournament at 1 under par.
Bryson DeChambeau wins driving contest but loses round to 63-year-old Bernhard Langer
By Matt Bonesteel
Pretournament betting favorite Bryson DeChambeau was one of the Masters’ biggest letdowns, his lost-ball triple-bogey at the third hole of the second round clearly the turning point. He entered that hole at 3 under par and within sight of the lead. He played the rest of the tournament at 1 over, which also was his score for the final round Sunday.
“I don’t know if I’m gonna think too much about [my experience] this week,” DeChambeau, who finished at 2-under 286, told CBS after his round. “Unfortunately I had some weird things happen to me this week that I just couldn’t foresee and that’s golf sometimes. At the end of the day, it’s okay. I’m just gonna go back home and relax, take some time off, and try to get strong again.”
DeChambeau told CBS that he continued to experience dizziness, something he first admitted to feeling Saturday. A coronavirus test he took Friday night came back negative, DeChambeau said.
The PGA Tour’s longest driver averaged 315 yards per tee shot on Sunday, down from the 334 he averaged in the first round. His playing partner Sunday, 63-year-old Bernhard Langer, averaged a paltry 250 yards per drive in the final round yet still managed to finish two strokes better than DeChambeau on the day and one stroke better for the tournament (3-under 285).
Langer, the two-time Masters winner who this year became the oldest player to ever make the cut at Augusta, will finish somewhere around 30th place, which isn’t even his best Augusta finish in recent memory. He tied for 24th in 2016 and tied for eighth two years before that.
Cameron Smith is making magic happen from the trees
By Matt Bonesteel
Cameron Smith hasn’t exactly been straight off the tee as he attempts to catch leader Dustin Johnson at the Masters, but he’s been able to wiggle his way out of trouble with two ridiculous shots from the trees.
Smith’s tee shot at the par-4 seventh hole went right, but he was able to recover by somehow skying his second shot over the trees and onto the green, where he made his birdie putt
Finding himself in a similar predicament at the par-4 ninth hole — this time he was hitting off the pine straw — Smith’s second shot found a narrow patch of fringe between two green-side bunkers and kicked onto the putting surface, coming to rest about two feet from the hole. It was another birdie for Smith, who is 3 under on the day and just two strokes behind Johnson.
Tied for 77th after first round, Rory McIlroy is now tied for fourth
By Matt Bonesteel
All but written off after a 5-over-par 77 in the first round, Rory McIlroy continued to claw his way back into contention Sunday in the Masters final round with three birdies and no bogeys over his first nine holes. As of this writing, he’s only five strokes back of leader Dustin Johnson.
McIlroy missed at least four fairways in each of his first three rounds but is a perfect 6 for 6 so far on Sunday. He converted a short birdie putt at the par-4 third hole, a longer one at the par-3 sixth and nearly dropped a lengthy eagle putt at the par-5 eighth.
McIlroy has five top 10 finishes at Augusta National but never has been able to claim the green jacket, the one Grand Slam prize he has yet to win. He likely will need to shoot at least 31 on the back nine — something he has done twice in the past at Augusta National — to truly challenge Johnson’s lead.
Cameron Champ is wearing one black shoe and one white to raise awareness of racial injustice
By Matt Bonesteel
Masters fans may have noticed an interesting sartorial choice on the part of Cameron Champ, who is wearing one black shoe and one white shoe during Sunday’s final round.
It’s a conscious decision. Champ, the son of a white mother and a biracial father and one of the PGA Tour’s few golfers of color, first went with the mix-and-match footwear at the 2019 Waste Management Open to celebrate Black History Month. He then resumed the practice at the BMW Championship in August, soon after the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer in Kenosha, Wis.
“It’s just spreading awareness and just sticking by what I believe in and what I believe needs to be changed,” he said in August. “And so I’m going to do as much as I can.”
Champ came out firing on Sunday with three straight birdies to open his round, but he gave it all back with a triple-bogey 6 at the par-3 fourth hole.
Jordan Spieth, the wayward former Masters champ, finds a way to keep fighting at Augusta National
By Barry Svrluga
The Masters will be determined here Sunday, and the list of players who will stare down each shot and each other is long and distinguished. Jordan Spieth isn’t on it.
In some ways, even with all the (deserved) attention and curiosity about Bryson DeChambeau and the revolution he wants to lead, Spieth’s story — relegated to a side stage — is more intriguing. Certainly, it’s every bit as complex. As he said in September, during a struggle of a U.S. Open at Winged Foot, “I’ve had just about everything happen to me in the game of golf.”
He’s 27, so that’s an extraordinary notion. It’s hard to argue with. Once, he was automatic at the Masters, posting four top-three finishes in a five-year stretch. Now, he wrestles with the cut line. Not just here. Every week. He was ranked No. 1 in the world. He arrived here 80th. His major results in one calendar year were once win, win, tied for fourth, second. His past four major results are tied for 65th, tied for 20th, tied for 71st, missed the cut.
There’s more. For a three-year stretch from 2015 to 2017, he won 11 tournaments, racked up 42 top-10 finishes, missed all of nine cuts and finished 50th or worse just once — an absolute force. For this three-year stretch from 2018 to 2020, he is winless, has just 12 top-10s, has missed 14 cuts and finished 50th or worse 15 times — an afterthought.
We’ve all been there, Collin Morikawa
By Matt Bonesteel
Morikawa would double bogey the par-4 11th hole.
Augusta National tinkers with pin placement at par-3 16th, making hole-in-one tough
By Matt Bonesteel
Jon Rahm’s water-skipping hole-in-one at Augusta National’s 16th hole during Tuesday’s practice round whetted everyone’s appetite for an ace at this year’s Masters, but we have yet to see one during tournament play. Things aren’t looking great for Sunday’s final round, either, as a nontraditional pin placement at the par-3 16th might rule out any chance of a hole-in-one.
The green at No. 16 slopes significantly from right to left. Traditionally, the 16th pin is placed at the back left of the green for the final round of the Masters, increasing the chances for a Sunday ace as well-placed tee shots funnel down to the cup.
Here’s the pin placement at No. 16 in 2019:
This year, the pin has been placed atop the slope on the right side of the green. Holes-in-one might be hard to come by, and the commentator for the Masters’ streaming featured-hole coverage on Sunday compared it to trying to land your ball “on the hood of your car.”
There have been 29 Masters aces at Augusta National’s four par-3 holes over the years, 20 of them coming at No. 16. Charley Hoffman was the last to accomplish the feat in 2018′s final round.
Matt Kuchar provided a better illustration of the 16th hole’s funnel effect in 2017:
Dustin Johnson’s hot play started well before the Masters
By Matt Bonesteel
Considering his play down the stretch this year, it really shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Dustin Johnson has done so well at this year’s Masters. He had finished no worse than a tie for sixth in each of the six tournaments that preceded the Masters, winning two of them and finishing in second in two others.
Johnson leads by four after 54 holes at Augusta, which also follows recent form:
It should be noted that Johnson didn’t play at all between the U.S. Open, which ended Sept. 20, and the Houston Open, which ended Nov. 8. He tested positive for the coronavirus in mid-October, forcing him out of the CJ Cup, which was played at a Las Vegas course at which he holds the club record.
Johnson has not shot over par in the final round of a golf tournament since his 1-over 72 to finish up the Genesis Invitational in February.
One of these golfers likely will win the Masters
By Matt Bonesteel
The last time a Masters winner emerged from a position lower than fifth place on Sunday, Dustin Johnson was not yet 5 years old. Sungjae Im, Abraham Ancer, Cameron Smith and Dylan Frittelli — the four players closest to Johnson on the leader board entering Sunday at this year’s tournament — had not yet been born. Greats such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player were still in the field. Nicklaus even made the cut.
In 1989, Nick Faldo shot a third-round 77 to stumble down the leader board. He began the fourth round tied for ninth place, five shots behind leader Ben Crenshaw. But he recovered with a 65 on Sunday and defeated Scott Hoch in a playoff to win the first of his three green jackets.
Since then, every Masters winner has been in first, second, third, fourth or fifth place entering Sunday’s final round. Those players this year: Johnson, Im, Ancer, Smith and Frittelli. Justin Thomas sits in sixth place, just outside the zone.
Plus, 24 of the last 29 Masters winners have come from the final group. This year, there are two final groups because of the split-tee start, but only one is composed of players who have a chance: Johnson, Im and Ancer at 9:29 a.m.
Where things stand entering the Masters final round
By Matt Bonesteel
After a nearly flawless third round, Dustin Johnson has taken a commanding lead over the field entering Sunday at the Masters. He’s four shots clear of Sungjae Im, Abraham Ancer and Cameron Smith, five ahead of Dylan Frittelli and six ahead of Justin Thomas.
DraftKings has set Johnson as a -295 favorite to win the tournament, which equates to nearly a 75 percent chance of victory. With a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday, he will tie Tiger Woods (1997) and Jordan Spieth (2015) for the Masters scoring record at 18 under par.
Its should be noted that Johnson has been in this situation at a major a number of times in the past — including as recently as August at the PGA Championship — and it hasn’t gone well.
Television coverage on CBS begins at 10 a.m. Eastern, though the first threesomes hit the course on two tees at 7:50. Masters.com, the Masters app and ESPN+ will stream featured-group and featured-hole coverage all morning and afternoon.
Johnson will tee off with Im and Ancer at 9:29 a.m. Note that group will tee off from the first and 10th tees, as they have all tournament.
Here are the tee times. Each group will be pushed back 10 minutes because of fog in Augusta, Masters officials announced Sunday morning: