Is this the start of the Dustin era? Johnson in a hurry to add to his major haul after stunning Masters triumph amid plan to retire within 10 years
- The American plans to give it nine more years before turning his back on golf
- Players tend to win majors in bunches, so he will keen to add to his two titles
- McIlroy will take encouragement from how well he did when he was off-key
- Big-hitting DeChambeau might even justify all the hype next time at Augusta
Will the floodgates open for new Masters champion Dustin Johnson? Anyone know what happened to Bryson? Will a European ever win an American major again?
As ever, the 84th edition of the Masters produced plenty of talking points. Let’s sift through the juicy ones…
1. How many majors will Dustin win?
Now 36, the American plans to give it nine more years before riding into the sunset with fiancée Paulina Gretzky.
Dustin Johnson celebrates with fiancée Paulina Gretzky, daughter of ice hockey legend Wayne
Usually vacant-looking, Johnson won himself a stack of new admirers with his tearful interview on American television, in which he tried several times to sum up what it meant to win, breaking down each time.
In the process, he gave the lie to the impression he just ambles along without a care in the world. You can see by the way he has improved in increments how much he cares.
You don’t go from rubbish with a wedge to proficient without endless hours of toil. You don’t become a good putter overnight.
Players tend to win majors in bunches, so how many can he rack up out of the next 36? The competition is fierce but you’d imagine he’d at least double his present total to catch Ernie Els with four.
Johnson plans to retire in nine years so he can spend time with Gretzky and their two children
2. Bryson, anyone?
It’s safe to say that playing the final round starting from the 10th tee and getting beaten by a 63-year-old bloke — Bernhard Langer — wasn’t quite in the plan for Bryson DeChambeau.
We could also have done without the pitiful complaining about dizziness. Who wouldn’t be with his diet?
After all the hype about what he was going to do to Augusta and how the par for him was 67, there was much chortling at his comeuppance, therefore.
That said, he’s still brilliant for the game. He’s still the US Open champion. And he’s still going to be a hot topic by the time the majors season resumes with another trip to Augusta next April. With spring in the air, he might even justify all the hype next time.
American Bryson DeChambeau might justify all the hype next time at Augusta National
3. When will we see a European win a major in America again?
The two stars from Europe this season have been Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton. So it wasn’t exactly encouraging with regard to ending the Euro drought when the former got lapped by Dustin on Saturday while the latter took his record in American majors this year to: played three, missed cuts three.
Clearly, both men are far better than this. Don’t Europe have plenty of other major contenders as well, or are we just fooling ourselves? Certainly, the facts make for dismal reading.
If we regard the victory of Seve Ballesteros at Augusta 40 years ago as the starting point for European golf in this context — the moment they started playing in American majors in numbers — this is comfortably the leanest run since 1980. That’s 11 straight American majors now that have been won by players from the host nation.
When the next major rolls around, it will have been four years since Sergio Garcia’s Masters victory in 2017.
The following two majors after that are in America as well. When you look at the awesome array of American talent, the next European victory might be a while yet.
Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton (above) were left in the shade by Johnson at the weekend
4. Hope for Rory?
If only he hadn’t had such a garbage first round, people kept saying.
As if it’s a given that, if Rory McIlroy had opened with a 66, he’d have played with the same freedom for the final three rounds, as he did following his dismal 75.
He might have beaten Johnson by one shot over the final 54 holes but it’s a damn sight easier shooting 14 under for three rounds when you’re in no position to win than 13 under when you’ve got everything to lose.
What was encouraging was how well McIlroy did when he was plainly off-key. He knows better than anyone that his iron play has to improve in a hurry. He finished dead last of those who made the cut in strokes gained in approach shots — usually the key stat of all in identifying Masters winners.
I also liked the manner in which he talked openly about the mental challenges he faces in his aim to complete the career Grand Slam, rather than seeking to bottle it up. There’s no shame in struggling to play your best under such intense pressure.
There’s a reason why only one player has completed the Slam since 1966, and only five in all.
5. How good is Tiger?
So, Tiger Woods takes a 10 at the 12th, his worst ever score on any hole in his entire career, and responds with five birdies thereafter for his best run from the 13th to the 18th in any of the 88 competitive rounds he’s played at the Masters.
That rather whets the appetite for next April, doesn’t it? Only 143 days to wait as well.
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