It doesn’t seem like that long ago that we were all saying Dustin Johnson was in the form of his career, and of course, he went on to win his maiden Green Jacket at the rescheduled Masters in November. However, as the 2021 edition of the Augusta National major rolls around, back in its normal April timeslot, it seems that the same can’t be said about the World No.1’s current form.
Johnson exited the recent WGC Match Play at the Austin County Club in Texas in the group stage. The 36-year-old opened the tournament with a victory over Adam Long, but he was left frustrated after a draw with Scotland’s Robert MacIntrye, who is somewhat of a novice on the PGA Tour, and a defeat to Kevin Na, which ended in controversy when the World No.1 left his opponent unhappy due to his etiquette.
Johnson will be understandably frustrated with his golf as the Masters quickly approaches. It’s not like the Match Play was a one-off bad tournament for the American. Instead, it was another competition added to the list of below-par performances for the World No.1.
At the Players Championship in mid-March, Johnson was a long way off the pace. Justin Thomas was the eventual winner at -14. However, the Masters winner was back in T48th, just one under par. At the tournament prior to that, the WGC-Workday Championship, Johnson would have been even more irritated with himself. He shot a six-over-par final round to finish five-over and T54.
Still, it’s no surprise that Johnson is still the heavily backed favourite in the betting exchange. After all, he took the iconic Augusta by storm in the unfamiliar settings back in November, when he finished a record 20-under, and with the Georgia course primed in the Spring conditions, many would expect him to retain his crown come the end of play on April 11th.
However, if those limited spectators on the course’s hallowed turf and the millions glued to their television sets around the world are to see Johnson crack another rare smile as he putts at the 18th before getting fitted into a second Green Jacket, then the 36-year-old needs to turn around his form – and quick.
Johnson has shown he has the ability, but it is well-known that his brain can go into overdrive and perhaps he thinks too much about his game, which at times like now can be a hindrance. However, despite exiting the Match Play at the group stage, he remains upbeat ahead of the Masters, and believes time is still on his side.
Talking about getting back into form, Johnson said: “I feel like it’s really close. At the Players Championship I felt like I played pretty good – I just made a lot of mental mistakes, just a little bit of everything.
“My game is not quite where I would like it to be, but I’ve got plenty of time to get it back in order leading up to the Masters at Augusta.”
His game might not be at the same level it was heading into last year’s Masters, when he was finishing close to the top – if not first – in most of the competitions in the build-up. However, if he can find the right mixture both physically and mentally in the coming weeks and days then he will still be a force to be reckoned with at Augusta.