Dustin Johnson is confident that the way he’s been swinging the golf club should prove enough to see the American over the line to complete a first Masters victory and a second career Major title.
The sight of DJ swiftly bending down to pick up his tee has been a hallmark of an all-round sensational display that sees the 36-year four shots out in front ahead of Sunday’s final round after firing seven birdies in a moving day blemish-free 65 around Augusta National. At 16-under par, Johnson heads Sungjae Im, Cameron Smith and Abraham Ancer by four strokes while the way the leader has gone about his business – immaculate ball striking and distance control coupled with a velvet touch around the greens – would suggest that someone’s going to have to produce something special from the chasing pack to catch the seemingly bulletproof Johnson.
“I would say the game is in really good form right now. You know, very similar to what it was back in 2017. It’s just very consistent. I feel like I’ve got a lot of control what I’m doing, controlling my distance well with my flight and my shape. I’m very comfortable standing over the golf ball right now, and obviously that’s a really good feeling,” said Johnson who explained how the heavy rain on Thursday has helped inform his aggressive gameplan.
“I’m swinging well, so it definitely helps because the par 3s here, you’ve just got to hit it the right distance. That’s the biggest key around here, especially on the par 3s, because there’s a lot of slopes on the greens, and just seems like if you can hit it the right distance, you can play them pretty solid, and I think I’ve done a really good job of that so far.
“I mean, with the conditions being soft, you can be really aggressive no matter what club you have in your hand, as long as you feel comfortable with how far you’re going to fly it. I feel like the golf course is in really good condition just with all the rain, it’s just so soft. So you’ve got to be aggressive and you’ve got to attack the flags.
“It’s definitely still a long way to go. Still got 18 more holes left. But I mean, it would mean a lot. What a great event; it’s the Masters, a major. I grew up right down the road. So this one would be very special to me.”
If the field was looking for encouragement, however, hope can be found in Johnson’s previous failures to convert 54-hole leads into Major wins. Four times Johnson has entered the final round of a Major holding the advantage while despite all his stunning play over the last number of years, the undisputed current world number one hasn’t won a major since the 2016 US Open.
“If I can play like I did today, I think it will break that streak,” said a confident Johnson. “But yeah, I mean, tomorrow, it’s just 18 holes of golf. I need to go out and play solid. I feel like I’m swinging really well. If I can just continue to give myself a lot of looks at birdie, I think I’ll have a good day.”
And Johnson admits that although it was four years ago at Oakmont where he prevailed for that US Open win, the memories are still plenty fresh ensuring he can draw on the experience to aid in his Georgia mission on Sunday.
“I think, you know, I put myself in the situation a lot of times. I know what it takes. I know how I respond in this situation,” he said. “I’m very comfortable with having the lead going into tomorrow. I’ve been in this situation a lot of times. I’m looking forward to the challenge. It’s still going to be a tough day. I’m going to have to play well if I want to get it done tomorrow.”