Neither Sputnik V nor Pfizer: Dustin Johnson found his own vaccine against adversity and became the great champion of golf in 2020. The coronavirus had isolated it from the fairways in mid-October, but the following month was able to consecrate himself in the Augusta Masters and received the green jacket from Tiger Woods. A feat that marked the most important milestone for the sport in this fateful year, also capable of destroying the PGA Tour tournament calendar.
In that strangely autumnal field due to the forced postponement from April to November, the South Carolina bomber vindicated himself, since he had little taste for his only conquest of the greats, in the 2016 US Open. On the basis of patience, but fundamentally sustained in a complete game with any of the 14 clubs in his bag, he comfortably prevailed at Augusta National and earned his virtual Hall of Fame ticket. It is clear that Johnson is not a fashion winner, but a golfer who does not stop his evolution and is shaping up to be a protagonist in any major of 2021. In fact, he has already been incarnating that role for a decade, glimpsing himself in several top ten and feigning with victories.
Apart from the achievement itself, the most impressive thing about Johnson were the numbers he got to reach the second major tournament of his career: thanks to the final round of 68 strokes (-4) he accumulated 268 (-20), a total under par never before reached in the history of this event since 1934. He exceeded the record of -18 by Tiger Woods (1997) and Jordan Spieth (2015), which shattered the previous marks, although helped by an accessible court like never before, without the usual preparation during the spring in the state of Georgia.
Johnson is fully justified in his status as the current No. 1 in the world. He left behind frustrations in big events that could have left him a sports trauma – such as when he received two strokes of a fine for supporting his 4-iron in a bunker at the 2010 PGA Championship and was left out of the playoff – and he always aspires to be a better player. That improvement was exposed when he focused on greater control of distance with the wedges, a range between 75 and 150 yards that he had historically belittled and that he only calculated based on his feelings. The acquisition of a TrackMan, a simulator used by many professionals, instructors and amateur players to record distances, was one of the keys to his progress.
Technology is a part of its quality leap, but so is his poise and mental strength so that nothing separates him from the goal he seeks. And if he’s wrong, he somehow resets his head and he’s already thinking about his next mission, not how he failed. The husband of Paulina Gretzky -daughter of the legendary former ice hockey player- enjoys that state of grace and lacks nothing to continue affirming himself at the top of the world ranking, within a circuit that is more competitive every year and with stars lurking here and there. there.
Johnson is arguably dominating of late with an iron fist, almost like Tiger Woods did in his glory periods. In the previous season, the 36-year-old won three titles with total scores that ridicule any challenge: 19 shots under par at the Travelers, -30 at the Northern Trust and -21 at The Tour Championship, a harvest that led him to lift the FedEx Cup trophy. And in the current season – with the contagion of coronavirus in the middle – he was 6th at the US Open, 2nd at the Houston Open and champion for the first time at the Augusta Masters. With this new reality, Johnson seems to have no roof.