Dustin Johnson claimed his second major and en route claimed the all-time scoring record around Augusta. His -20 268 eclipsed Tiger’s 270 from 1997, a low 72 hole score he shared with Jordan Spieth (2015).
It’s been a strange year for obvious reasons and the reshuffled date, moving the Masters from the first major of the year in April to the last in November wasn’t without risk. A spring event was swapped for an autumn one and on day one it didn’t look like a great plan. Rain pelted down and disrupted play for several hours as the green fairways became rivers of cascading H2O. However the establishment rallied like no other could – remarkably the course was prepared and the players returned to finish as much of their first round as they could in the fading light.
Groups of three remained for the duration of the even and, play began on the front and back nine. On days two and three and many had to finish their previous round before a break and another 18 on the same day making for long working hours. By the end of day three everything was back on track. The weather cleared and the soft and uncharacteristic slow greens were speeding up.
After 54 holes Dustin Johnson held a four shot lead, ahead of South Korean Im Sung-jae and Australia’s Cameron Smith. Other stars littered the scoreboard underneath that. Im and Smith both mounted challenges of sorts during the closing round, however after a sluggish start DJ rebooted and then simply blew the field away. From tee to green he was impeccable and his putting from short to mid-range was, dare I say it, Tigeresque. Birdies on holes 13, 14 and 15 finally put an end to anyone catching him. The engraver began his job and the tailor readied the DJ’s new green blazer.
Smith and Im both finished five shots behind DJ – earning the honour of the joint lowest score not to win in Master’s history. Their -15 total saw them tie for 2nd and bright futures look certain. It should be noted that Smith also enters the record books as the first player in Master's history to record four sub 70 rounds!
While DJ put on a clinic, Tiger watch was always on, especially after a promising opening round of 68. However it appeared as though the longer days, where an early start to finish a prior round and then another 18 took its toll. Tiger struggled to make ground on the leaders as the gap grew. At the par three 12th of his final round, he put two balls in the drink from the tee, then he virtually had to side straddle and lay down in a bunker to get his fifth shot out of the sand. Again he found the water. Ten shots later (yes he took a ten and hackers worldwide realise it happens to everyone), Tiger went from three under to four over. Strange year indeed!
Mind you Tiger still has the fire in the belly, he wasn’t departing his favourite course with his tail between his legs. He birdied five of his last six holes to get his score back in the red. Magnifico!
A few holes back, DJ kept cracking shots up the middle of the fairway. Then he’d plonk it on the dance floor and more often than not he’d make the putt. This was a masterclass from the World #1 and it may take some effort to displace him from his podium in 2021.
In closing I just wanted to note how refreshing it was watching the event on Foxtel. I didn’t get one ad break from 3am when I dragged myself out of bed to watch the final round to the finish. And the lack of a crowd gave you a look at Augusta like never before – the aerial shots that we saw were also a first - a viewing pleasure!
What a strange year indeed and what a way to finish with the greatest golfing display at Augusta ever! Congrats Dustin, you were awesome!
- Garry Kennedy