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Dustin Johnson’s Masters title defense comes quickly, with more record opportunities


Much has transpired within the higher tier of professional golf in lower than 5 months since November’s COVID-19-delayed 2020 Masters Tournament.

Jordan Spieth is again within the inexperienced jacket dialog. So is soon-to-be 48-year-old Lee Westwood, because the eighty fifth Masters begins Thursday at a agency and quick Augusta National Golf Club.

There is not any change, nevertheless, within the favourite’s position – Dustin Johnson’s record run round Augusta National Golf Club 144 days in the past continues to be contemporary within the minds of everybody.

Johnson, the world’s No. 1-ranked participant, has the uncommon likelihood to tug off what may very well be referred to as a “Dustin Double.” Since the 2020 Masters was the final main championship that 12 months and that is the primary considered one of 2021, Johnson can win the identical main championship consecutively.

The final time that chance even introduced itself was in February 1971, when the PGA Championship was the primary main of that 12 months after being the final one in 1970. Dave Stockton received the 1970 occasion and Jack Nicklaus took the 1971 one six months later.

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Patrons make the No. 1 and No. 9 fairways during Wednesday's practice round for the Masters.

Patrons make the No. 1 and No. 9 fairways throughout Wednesday’s follow spherical for the Masters.

Because of the fast turnaround from the 2020 Masters, Johnson also can change into the primary Masters champion to win back-to-back on the similar age. His thirty seventh birthday isn’t till June 22.

Only three gamers have received the Masters in consecutive years, and Johnson is nicely conscious of that.

“It’s just very tough to win, I mean, to win once, and especially multiple times,” mentioned Johnson, who’s paired with Westwood and U.S. Amateur champion Tyler Strafaci in Thursday’s first spherical, going off at 10:30 a.m.

Johnson is the one participant within the discipline to have completed within the high 10 in his previous six Masters begins. He can be using an 11-round streak of under-par rounds at Augusta National.

“I’m ready,” Johnson mentioned.

Dustin Johnson plays his second shot on the 11th hole during a practice round Wednesday.

Dustin Johnson performs his second shot on the eleventh gap throughout a follow spherical Wednesday.

After Johnson received the 2020 Masters, the early odds for 2021 had Johnson as the favourite, adopted by Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlory, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas. The high two in most betting companies at the moment are Johnson, adopted by Spieth. DeChambeau or Thomas, coming off a Players Championship win, is the No. 3 choose in most companies.

Spieth, who has been on a tear since Feb. 7 and received final week for the primary time since 2017, is the uncommon Masters contender who isn’t even ranked within the high 50. He’s 53rd on this planet as a result of his droop had been so extended.

Westwood, 47, can change into the oldest Masters champion, breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record set 35 years in the past when he was 46. Westwood tapped into the fountain of youth throughout the pre-Masters Florida Swing, completed second in back-to-back tournaments. He’s jumped on this planet rating from forty seventh earlier than November’s Masters to twentieth.

The beginning discipline of 88 gamers will face a course that can ask a lot completely different questions than in November. The firmness of the fairways, and particularly the greens, will make the solutions more durable to return by.

“You’re going to have to put four good rounds together, especially with the conditions, like normal conditions,” Johnson mentioned. “You’ve got to do everything well. And with it firm and fast, it’s just a really hard golf course because obviously any hole at any time can jump out and get you.”

How quick are the greens? Fred Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, noticed the firmness first hand on Wednesday throughout a nine-hole follow spherical with McIlroy.

Jordan Spieth tees off during Wednesday's practice round.

Jordan Spieth tees off throughout Wednesday’s follow spherical.

“Rory asked me five times, ‘Have you ever seen the greens like this on a Wednesday?’ and five times in a row I said no,” Couples mentioned. “He was laughing. He’s been here a bunch. If it stays like this, even Friday, 70 or 71 will be a heckuva score. If we get rain and it softens up, these guys are the greatest players and the golf course is there. But the greens are hard to get the ball close.

“It’s the way it should be, it should be hard,” Couples mentioned. “I enjoy it. I want to see these guys play it as hard as it possibly can. They’re not concrete yet, but they’re brown and they’re going to get there fast. Look out.”

In the November Masters, Westwood mentioned “you could actually miss it in spots you were terrified about when you were making your plan, and you could be aggressive to certain flags. It wasn’t, as everybody would sort of say, a true Masters. This week it’s back to how the golf course should play, fast and firm, and this is how it is at its toughest. You’ll see, I think, people who have got a lot of experience around here coming to the top of the leaderboard again.”

That would come with Westwood, who’s enjoying in his twentieth Masters. And although Spieth is just enjoying in his eighth Masters, he has a stroke common of 70.46 for 28 rounds. Tiger Woods has the record at 70.87, for between 75 and 99 rounds. Woods has performed 90 rounds.

A agency course ought to play into the palms of the longest hitter on tour, DeChambeau, who’s making his fifth Masters begin. He was the presumptive favourite in November and nonetheless led the sector at 324.4 yards per measured drive, however errors and over-aggressive play led to a tie for thirty fourth place.

Bryson DeChambeau warms up on the practice range.

Bryson DeChambeau warms up on the follow vary.

He’s averaging a PGA Tour-leading 320.8 yards off the tee this season and is coming off a victory in March’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I’ve never seen it this fast, this quick, this early, but I certainly love the challenge,” mentioned DeChambeau, who plans escape a driver that has a loft of 4.5 levels for the primary time.

“I just feel like wet conditions and the landing and stopping and the golf ball being wet has played a little bit to me not knowing fully what the golf ball is going to do,” DeChambeau mentioned, referring to the November Masters. “So whenever it’s firmer, faster conditions, whether it be Shriners, whether it be Bay Hill or the U.S. Open or different golf courses I’ve won on, they have usually always been firm. So I think that plays into my hand nicely for what I’m comfortable with.”

When DeChambeau received September’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot, he mixed his size with a deft brief sport. That is a part of a profitable mixture on the Masters.

“Length is only as good as you can hit your next shot, is what I always say,” DeChambeau mentioned. “And that’s the most important thing about Augusta National, is it doesn’t test just the driving. It tests your second shots, it tests the third shot, it tests – you’re making for par, your 4-footer you’re trying to make for par. I think that’s what’s so special about here is that you have to have every facet of your game working really, really well.”

This article initially appeared on Augusta Chronicle: Masters 2021: Dustin Johnson gets another chance at more records

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