Dustin Johnson lived up to his world No.1 ranking with an imperious victory at the 84th Masters Tournament, shooting a record-breaking low score of 20 under par at Augusta to secure his first green jacket.
The 36-year-old American posted a four-under-par 68 on Sunday to finish five shots clear of Australian Cameron Smith and South Korea’s Sungjae Im.
Johnson’s superb performance during the re-arranged staging of the Masters saw him beat the record lowest winning score of 18 under par set by Tiger Woods in 1997 and Jordan Spieth in 2015.
“It’s hard. I was nervous all day. I could feel it,” said Johnson, who will defend his title in five months’ time when the Masters returns to its usual spot in April. “The Masters is for me the biggest tournament and the one I wanted to win the most. I am just very proud of the way I handled myself and finished off the tournament. It still feels like a dream. As a kid, I was dreaming about winning the Masters and having Tiger put the Green Jacket on you still feels like a dream. But I am here and what a great feeling it is. I could not feel more excited.”
Johnson looked in the zone all week, with the languid South Carolinian seemingly looping his way around the course without a care in the world. He rarely had a moment’s lapse, shooting 20 birdies and two eagles en route to claims his second major title, four years after his US Open victory.
The foundation for his victory was set with an opening 65 that gave him a share of the lead, and he had another 65 on Saturday to become the first player in Masters history to achieve such a feat and join Spieth as the only men to reach 16 under par after three rounds.
Johnson has previously failed to win major titles on four occasions after holding a 54-hole lead, but his steely focus never wavered, even when his lead was cut to one shot after five holes. He recovered with a birdie on the par-three sixth as Im made his first bogey of the day and another birdie at eight saw Johnson lead Smith by two as he headed to the back nine. Smith, in the group ahead, had been scrambling superbly, but bogeyed 11 to hand the leader a three-stroke advantage once more.
Johnson successfully negotiated Amen Corner with a birdie at 13 and made it three in a row through 14 and 15 to accelerate to 20 under par. There was finally time for a smile as he tapped in for par at the 18th to complete his impressive victory to a smattering of applause from the Augusta members and players’ families gathered around the green.
Rory McIlroy’s hopes of completing the grand slam of major wins slipped by for another year, with the 31-year-old Northern Irishman’s chances scuppered with his opening 75, although three subsequent rounds of 66, 67 and 69 saw him finish in a tie for fifth on 11 under with South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli.
“I will look back on this week and rue what happened,” he said. “After the 75 I played well, had to shoot a good score to be here for the weekend and played solid. I wasn’t really think about trying to win the tournament. When I reached 11 under and DJ was at 15 under I thought ‘maybe’, but then the wind got up. Hopefully we get back to a normal Masters in a few months’ time, but I’m going to try and adopt this attitude and this approach.”
Tommy Fleetwood finished highest among the English contingent at six under par, with two-time runner-up Justin Rose at five under and 2016 champion Danny Willett a further stroke back alongside Ian Poulter.
Tiger Woods returned to Augusta looking to win a sixth green jacket, but was out of contention by the time he teed off in Sunday’s final round. It did not stop the 15-time major champion producing one of the most remarkable moments of the tournament when he carded a septuple bogey 10 at the par-three 12th, where his ball made three visits to Rae’s Creek. The 44-year-old then produced a sensational spell of five birdies in his final six holes to sign for a four-over 76 and end the week at one under par.
Much of the pre-tournament hype surrounded the big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau, but the US Open champion struggled to find form this week with rounds of 70, 74, 69 and 73 to finish in a tie for 34th at two under par. That score was matched by American Andy Ogletree, who claimed the low amateur prize.
For the final leaderboard from the 2020 Masters, click here.