Golf

Irmo’s Dustin Johnson could make a major move at the Masters

Dustin Johnson's issues at Augusta National

Josh Kendall breaks down the factors working against Irmo native Dustin Johnson in his effort to win the 2016 Masters after his best finish in the prior year.
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Josh Kendall breaks down the factors working against Irmo native Dustin Johnson in his effort to win the 2016 Masters after his best finish in the prior year.

For now, the title “Best Golfer Never to Win a Major” is fine with Dustin Johnson.

“If your name’s getting mentioned as best player, whether, you know, whatever comes after that, is usually pretty good,” the Irmo native said. “I’ve got to say it’s positive.”

The Coastal Carolina alum is all about optimism headed into his seventh Masters this week. Last year’s U.S. Open, in which he three-putted from 12 feet to hand the tournament to Jordan Spieth? A positive, something to build on, Johnson said Monday at Augusta National, pointing out he hit a very good drive and approach shot to get into position on the green.

“To me, that gives me a lot of confidence; if I’m in that situation on Sunday, I know I can get it done,” he said. “I know I can hit the shots that I need to hit and put myself in position.”

Johnson is coming off his best Masters finish, a tie for sixth last year, and he’s finished in the top 10 four times this season. He decided at the last minute to enter last week’s Houston Open, and ended up finishing third the day before he arrived in Augusta. Johnson spent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of last week practicing at Augusta National before flying to Houston.

“The majors, obviously they are our four biggest tournaments. To me, this is probably the biggest one of the four, being as it’s so close to where I grew up,” Johnson said. “Whether you win five tournaments, if you don’t play good in any of the majors, it’s still just kind of a mediocre year. I think you’ve got to compete in the majors to have a great year.”

Golf Channel analysts Brandel Chamblee and Notah Begay both expressed doubt last week that Johnson was ready to compete this week.

Johnson, though, said his wedge game and his bunker game both are at all-time highs heading into this week’s tournament.

“I feel like I’ve got a lot of confidence in every part of my game right now, especially with my wedges,” he said. “I’ve been working really hard on my wedges, and I feel like that’s improved a lot over the last, you know, six weeks. I can definitely see improvement in that. I think that’s something that’s going to help me around here.”

The question is, can it help enough for Johnson to remove the “Never to Win a Major” part of his title.

“You know, I still feel like my time’s coming,” he said. “I’ve just got to keep putting myself in position to have a chance to win. One of these days, I will get it done.”

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