Defending champion Dustin Johnson admitted he was not feeling ‘short-changed’ despite there being the shortest time ever between two Masters, namely five months since his win on November 15th last year and the April 8th start to his defence at Augusta National.
Johnson, 36, returned to the famed Georgia golfing gem earlier this month playing the course where he won by five shots at 20-under par, thrilled to sit in the clubhouse enjoying a meal while wearing the most sought after item of clothing in men’s golf.
“No, I do not feel short changed. It wouldn’t bother me if I only had it for a day,” said Johnson in a special Masters conference call. “The coolest thing was probably going back up to Augusta last week, wearing the jacket on the grounds. I ate dinner in the green jacket. That was fun.”
He had been asked that question earlier this year by this journalist and his response was more off-the-cuff and DJ-like in saying: “The best way to fix that is to win the Masters again in April.”
However, in driving back down Magnolia Lane and proudly walking into the clubhouse wearing his members’ jacket ahead of returning to the course for a first time has been the stuff of dreams for the World No. 1
“It’s incredible. It’s something I dreamed of as a kid,” he said. “It has just been an amazing experience. Looking back to last November I felt like I was in complete control of the golf ball the whole week. I was super focused all week and knew exactly what I was going to do and was able to execute.
“And in playing the course earlier this month, I felt on most holes I was definitely thinking about the shots I hit on the Sunday, especially that first round.
“November, the greens were soft. You could be a lot more aggressive with longer clubs. They would stop and hold the greens. I’d imagine it’s going to be pretty firm and fast. It’s definitely not going to be as soft as it was. You’re going to have to be able to land the ball in different spots. It looks like it’s shaping up to be a normal Masters.”
Johnson, whose only other major title came at the 2016 US Open at Oakmont, believes also capturing the Masters provided a measure of reassurance in his career.
“It definitely gives me more confidence. It definitely reassured me that I am a very good player and I can win these big golf tournaments,” Johnson said. “It definitely relieves a lot of respect when I step back on the grounds for the Masters once again.”
Johnson was also asked if he felt given the drier conditions in April, compared to five months ago, could play more into Bryson DeChambeau’s hands than it did five months ago.
“It’s what works for him,” Johnson said. “If you can hit it further and control it, you definitely have an advantage. If I want to, I could hit it further. I have a driver I could hit a lot further than the one I’m playing. The little bit of extra distance, the harder you swing, the bigger your misses are. It just didn’t help. When I think I can’t beat someone, then I might look at changing. When I play my best golf, I feel like I can beat whoever I’m playing against.”
Johnson is not contesting this week’s Honda Classic so will wind-up his Masters tournament preparations at next week’s WGC – Dell Match-Play Championship in Austin, Texas.
“I’ve got a little ways to go,” he said. “My game is not quite where I would like it to be. I’ve got plenty of time to get it back in order leading up to Augusta. It’s really close to being pretty good again.”