Bill Elliott takes a look back over the 2020 Masters and marvels at 'a masterclass in power and control' from Dustin Johnson
He didn’t wait to tap in the final, winning putt, didn’t milk the moment, didn’t veer away from the nonchalant, laid-back, sleepy character that had taken him to victory at the Masters. Dustin Johnson is a lot of things but emotional isn’t one of them.
He didn’t say it but one felt he was thinking ‘why the hell did it take me so long’ while his brother caddy Austin ticked the other box by starting to cry on the 18th green.
Johnson’s winning score, 20 under par, is a record although it should come with an asterisk beside it and a single word… November.
This was the late autumn Masters and Johnson was the biggest fall guy in golf’s erratic history. Hopefully there will never be another one like it for all the right reasons. We’ve had all the silence we need in sport to this point.
In that sense Johnson’s careful, powerful, considered, victory yomp round the old technicolour dreamscape was in perfect keeping with the times and an instinctive acknowledgement that whatever else he had just achieved it was a Masters unique not only to him but for all of us.
Wrapped in a four shot lead as he ambled towards the first tee on this Sunday in Georgia he suffered just a few moments of alarm when he bogeyed the fourth and fifth holes, the impressive Korean Sungjae Im closing in behind. Here was the drama but here too was the mirage. Johnson birdied the sixth, Im bogeyed.
And that was it, the rest was a masterclass in power and control, of caution and intelligence. Impressive, yes, dramatic, no. Johnson won’t care. He was in Augusta to win a jacket, not make new friends or admirers although he may well have done both.
Behind him, Im, 22, and Australia’s Cameron Smith, 27 but looking 17, played terrific stuff just not quite terrific enough. When he eventually stood on the 18th tee the American embraced a five shot lead. Several holes earlier this Masters had turned into a walk in the park, for this final hole even this laid-back golfer could do something that didn’t seem possible, he could slow down.
One other thing… Tiger Woods also achieved the impossible by adding yet more gloss to his curriculum vitae. After suffering the worst hole of his glittering Masters career with a jarring 10 at the short 12th, Woods pulled himself together and birdied five of the next six holes. Simply bloody magnificent.