McIlroy leads praise of new Masters champ Johnson

Bernie McGuire

Dustin Johnson plays his stroke from the No.4 tee during Round 4 of the Masters at Augusta National

Four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy has led the outpouring of praise for new Masters champion, Dustin Johnson. Johnson captured a second major title in record-smashing manner posting a new championship low of 20-under par to win by five shots at Augusta National.

The golfer affectionately known as ‘DJ’ is among just four players to have won the Masters while ranked World No.1 and wins in joining a handful in being fitted with an Augusta National members green jacket the very next year after being runner-up. ‘DJ’s’ victory is  his fourth success this COVID-19 hit season and the 27th pro win of his career, that’s one less victory that McIlroy.

McIlroy had been drawn for the first two rounds of a first November Masters with his good friend and fellow Bear’s Club member but a 75 compared to Johnson’s 65 sadly was the writing on the wall in McIlroy’s goal to achieve what Johnson accomplished. As well, ‘DJ’ has achieved the feat of being fitted into a ’42 Long’ Augusta National member’s green jacket in a tenth Masters appearance while the new No.4 world ranked McIlroy heads to next April’s 85th Masters teeing-up in a 13th Masters, in what will now be ‘Take 7’ in his effort to join golf’s ‘Grand Slam Club’. All that being said, McIlroy was pleased for Johnson:


“He’s been knocking on the door so long, and I think, again, since coming back out from the lockdown in June he has been by far the best player in the world,” said McIlroy.

“He’s won a few times, won a FedExCup, had a chance at Harding Park (PGA Championship) but it validates what he did at Oakmont winning the U.S. Open a few years ago (2016) and he’s had so many chances and hasn’t quite been able to close the deal, but his resume speaks for itself, how many times he’s won on the PGA Tour, how consistent he’s been. I played with him the first two days here. He’s got the ball on a string. It was really impressive.”

And McIlroy not only singled out Johnson’s strength on the golf course but he praised his mental strength too, contradicting a widely held belief that DJ is the kind of guy who wouldn’t shout if a shark bit him!

“DJ is just smarter than you think,” he said. “He’s switched on, more so than he lets on, more so than everyone in the media thinks. I’ll just put it that way.”

Statistics-wise Johnson took a shark-like bite out of Augusta National averaging 67 over his four rounds compared to McIlroy’s 69.25, with Johnson setting-up victory early on Friday morning in ending his rain-delayed first round with a 65. In very stark contrast, McIlroy admitted his corresponding opening 75 left him with just too much to do over the closing three rounds. No doubt, McIlroy will catch-up with Johnson in the coming days and offer his own congratulations to a friend and fellow competitor who now knows where in the world he will be in the second week of April for at least the next 30-years.

“I get to come back to the Masters every year, and I will, for a long time, until they tell me not to come back,” said Johnson smiling. “It’s a dream come true, and I’m just so proud and so honoured to be y’all’s champion.”

Another to sing the praise of Johnson was now fellow Masters champion, Patrick Reed who share 10th place 11 strokes behind the winner: “Dustin has got the hardest one out of the way, he’s got a first Masters,” said Reed.

“To be No.1 in the world, that means you’re winning a lot of other golf tournaments and you’re putting yourself in contention almost week in and week out. When you’re able to do that and you come into any Major, you have to have confidence and feel confident in yourself. You can definitely tell with the way he was this week and kind of how he’s walking around, how he’s carrying himself, that he knows he’s playing really well. He also knows he has full control over his golf ball and he putted really well, and it showed walking off at 20-under par which is very impressive”.

And given DJ’s fondness for Augusta National clubhouse sandwiches, and the fact he’s now eligible to return to tee-up whenever he likes, it now puts pressure on the club’s catering manager to stock-up on his favourite snack:

“It feels great knowing I will be able to come back forever and eat those sandwiches, but they only have those during Masters week,” Johnson said smiling.

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