When Dustin Johnson tees-up in the defence of his Masters title next April, it will have been only five months that he’s been officially allowed to wear the famed members green jacket away from Augusta National.
It will mean one of the shortest-ever periods between Masters given last year’s tournament was rescheduled from its normal April date to November due to the worldwide pandemic. In a regular golf season, the winner of the Masters gets to wear the famed member’s green jacket but 2020 was far from a normal year, and it’s not known if those at Augusta National will allow Johnson to wear golf’s most sought after item of apparel past Sunday 11th April, 2021 However, the current World No.1 has a sure-fire way to correct that scenario.
“Hopefully I’ll just get another one in April,” said Johnson, breaking out in a smile ahead of this week’s Saudi International. And what has the reaction been like from those around you when you’ve walked into a room or wherever wearing the Masters jacket?
“I mean, obviously it’s been great. It’s obviously got a lot of respect and praise from friends and fellow competitors, but yeah, obviously it’s definitely a nice jacket to have in the closet,” he added.
Johnson demoralised the field last November winning by five shots and with still three months before his defence, he remains favourite to become the first back-to-back winner at Augusta National since Tiger Woods in 2001 and 2002. Though there’s not just the Masters Johnson has to look forward to this season and, pandemic concerns aside, there will now be the guarantee of all four major championships along with a rescheduled Olympic Games and the Ryder Cup.
“I’m looking forward to the whole season, obviously the majors, but every event I play,” he said. “I don’t really set goals if I want to win a certain amount of tournaments or win this tournament. I don’t like to do that. For me, every week, every tournament I go to, I want to compete and I want to put myself in a position to have a chance to win come Sunday.
“So that’s kind of my goal going into every week, so I don’t really look past the tournament that I’m playing that week. So that’s just how I prepare and that’s how I approach every event.”
Johnson returns to Saudi Arabia for a third year running to tee-up on the Royal Greens course where he is 29-under par for his two appearances in 2019 and 2020. He went close last year in being relegated into second place by Graeme McDowell with Johnson teeing-up also in a first event since a T11th in last month’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
“It’s a golf course where you have to drive it well. I mean, have got a lot of slope in them so you need to be able to control your ball coming into it,” said Johnson.
“But if you drive it well, you can definitely make a lot of birdies just because you can get some short clubs in your hand. I think it’s very important to drive it well here, especially with the rough. Got quite a bit of rough. But yeah, I mean, there’s only two par 5s, but you can — if you drive it in the fairway, you can reach them, and quite a few short holes. Like I said, you’ve got to drive it well, and felt like I’ve drove it well here the last couple years and that’s why I’ve had success.”
Johnson will play the opening two rounds in the company of the champion England duo of Lee Westwood and Tyrrell Hatton.