I woke up on Monday morning and completed an emotional inventory. Masters hangover? No way. Too much of this good thing has never left me feeling badly. A little bummed out? Not so much. Why? The 2021 Masters is less than five months away. One has to wonder, if Dustin Johnson wins again, will he put the green jacket on himself? Probably not. Although Jack Nicklaus did when he became the first repeat winner in 1966, when Nick Faldo repeated in 1990 and Tiger Woods in 2002, the chairman of Augusta National did the honors. I'll be watching.
Like many golf fans, I did not take for granted that the tournament was being held. Indeed, the 2020 edition provided us with unadulterated views of the course and four straight days of new content for SportsCenter. We could take in all its beauty—a beauty so captivating its often difficult to look away. While I certainly missed the roar of the crowd, the real reason we watch—the competition was stellar and the champion, triumphant. And so, I would like this post to honor the victor.
I have written about Dustin Johnson many times. I watched and recorded countless interviews and stories about his first Masters win and second major title. There isn't a lot to say that hasn't already been said; sports stories are running thin right now but I have a few thoughts to share. While the world seems to be saying "no" a lot these days. Here are but fives yeses I have to offer.
Yes, Dustin Johnson won the tournament by shooting 20 under, 5 strokes ahead of the second place finishers, Sung-Jae Im of South Korea and Cameron Smith of Australia. DJ now holds the lowest winning score in Masters history. Johnson closed with a 4-under 68 and finished with a final score of 268, breaking the record set by Woods in 1997 and matched by Jordan Spieth in 2015 (-18). His record will be easy to remember: 20 under in 2020. Finally something cool about this year.
Yes, it was and is hard not to love Austin Johnson. Brothers born three years apart, Austin broke down in tears first, midway through the 18th hole. While not many golfers have a sibling as their caddie, this has proven to be a worthy partnership. Austin has been on the bag with DJ since 2013. One must wonder what he will be doing with his white jumpsuit or green Masters hat this week. Why? In 2016 after DJ won the US Open, Austin revealed he did not take his caddie bib off for a week after the tourney. He said: "I washed it and got it framed, but I had to enjoy it first." He added, "I played golf in it, speared fish in it, went to dinner in it. Everything."
And yes, their parents gave them names that differ by one letter.
Yes, Dustin's like the rest of us—except, of course, when he's not. The man is unflappable. He appears to have a resting heart rate of 30. However, he admitted he was nervous the whole time. A caddie friend on the tour said "it was nice to see them show raw emotions. Shows a side we never see!"
Yes, those emotions came pouring out when he was interviewed after he stepped away from the course. "I've never had this much trouble gathering myself,'' Johnson finally said. "On the golf course, I'm pretty good at it.'' Standing and sitting in his 42 Long green jacket, DJ was reminded that he need not apologize—Bubba Watson set that standard and made it more than ok.
Yes, Paulina Gretzky—his fiance—ran onto the green in her own green jacket, albeit a cropped one. Though most men in America will disagree, I thought the yoga pants were inappropriate for Augusta National. Stay classy.
Yes, Sunday at the Masters is a tradition like no other.
Yes, it will return in early April, 2021.
And yes, we will return to it much different and yet the same—eager for the competition, the camaraderie, colors and the commentary. Oh yes....
Tiger and DJ