USA TODAY Sports’ Steve DiMeglio breaks down a tip headlines to watch for during a 2017 Masters.
USA TODAY Sports
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Dustin Johnson is underestimated.
A humorous thing to contend for a No. 1 actor in a world, who arrives during a Masters as a favorite after winning his final 3 events. But it’s true.
For a prolonged time, a notice of Johnson was that he was small some-more than a bomber, his diversion depending heavily on his earthy ability and not so most a mental side of it. Put him on courses where length carried a day, and you’d find him nearby a tip of a leaderboard. But if his brief diversion came into play, or his putting, he’d fundamentally fade.
Over a final year, however, Johnson has flipped that script. And his newfound ability to consider his approach around a golf march competence be a biggest explanation during Augusta National this year.
“He’s unequivocally underrated in that department. There is a intelligent component to what Dustin Johnson does,” Golf Channel researcher Brandel Chamblee pronounced final week during a teleconference to preview a Masters.
“I consider there’s an ability for him to take a demeanour during a lay of a land and immediately suppose a shot that’s compulsory to fit whatever hole location, and afterwards be means to make a changes in his golf pitch only immediately to arrange of fit a lay of a land,” Chamblee continued. “And that’s an jaunty talent that is unequivocally underrated.
“He might not be means to clear that to a grade that everybody wants him to, though we consider athletically, he’s got a gift.”
That Johnson was physically means was never a question. “Kind of a weird of nature,” Rickie Fowler called him Monday. He got his initial feat in 2008, his initial full year on tour, and has won during slightest one eventuality any year since.
He’s finished in a tip 15 of a FedExCup standings all though one year given 2009. The difference came in 2014, when he missed a final half of a year while holding a leave of deficiency to solve personal issues.
Despite that, until final year, Johnson was some-more famous for his flameouts than his successes. The leave of absence, obviously. Then there were his debacles during a majors.
He coughed adult both a U.S. Open and a PGA Championship in 2010, gagging divided his three-stroke lead after 54 holes during Pebble Beach by going triple bogey-double bogey-bogey on Nos. 2-4 and afterwards education his bar in a jeopardy area on a 72nd hole during Whistling Straits.
He was within a shot of a lead during a British Open in 2011 when he strike out of bounds. He mislaid a 2015 U.S. Open by a cadence after three-putting from 12 feet on a final hole.
But something pitch manager Butch Harmon had pronounced struck a haughtiness with Johnson early final year. If he ever wanted to be a actor he was means of, Harmon said, Johnson was going to have to get softened from 150 yards in.
So during a West Coast swing, he began enlightening his brief game, quite his wedges.
“It was something that we never really — we practiced, though not like, we know, only a certain way,” Johnson pronounced Tuesday. “I’ve got 3 shots with any crowd and I’ll work on a same 3 shots with any crowd any day flattering much. That’s where it’s improved.
“It’s nothing — there’s no rocket scholarship behind it. It’s only flattering simple,” he added. “It’s helped me a lot with stretch control. Just meaningful accurately how distant my wedges go, and it’s something that we never unequivocally had finished before.”
He’s creation adult for it now. During one of his warm-up sessions during WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, 40 of his 50 shots were with his wedges. It’s a consternation his TrackMan, that uses radar record to gauge launch angle, spin rate and curvature, isn’t smoking by a time he finishes his use sessions.
(Yes, he brought it with him to Augusta National and had it on a pushing operation Monday and Tuesday.)
The impact on his diversion has been significant, to put it mildly.
Johnson strew that dreaded, “Best Player Never to Win a Major” tag during final year’s U.S. Open during Oakmont. He was stone solid during a Ryder Cup, assisting a Americans kick Europe for a initial time given 2008.
And this year, he’s dominated in a approach that recalls Tiger Woods in his heyday.
“It’s all reckoning on Dustin Johnson right now,” pronounced Colin Montgomerie, now an researcher for Golf Channel. “If he gets off to a good start a initial day, he’ll be a very, unequivocally formidable male to beat, since he’s apropos like Woods was in the era: You don’t wish him in your rear-view counterpart during all.”
Always means to repress a march with his length, he can now repress it with his wedges and is tighten to being means to do it with his putter, too. That creates him a hazard during Augusta National. And everywhere else for that matter.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twittter @nrarmour.
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