With so many near-misses in recent years, golf fans around the world were waiting on Dustin Johnson’s breakthrough in a major tournament.
At the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club, they finally saw it happen as the Coastal Carolina graduate charged from a 4-stroke deficit to win by three shots.
So the question is now fair to ask: Is he a favorite for the 2017 Masters Tournament?
Johnson’s recent history at Augusta National Golf Club points in a positive direction. He’s posted back-to-back top-six finishes the past two years, including a T-4 finish in 2016 that would indicate a new level of comfort playing on the course.
He also has a history of playing well in the biggest tournaments, posting three top-10 finishes in his past four major tournaments and two victories in World Golf Championship events and two more in FedEx Cup events in the past few years.
In addition, with the pressure off of trying to “finally win the big one” the questions surrounding his game now turn from “can you win?” to “Can you win another one?” The difference may seem minor, but with media coverage and the world watching, every small thing matters.
His past performances also speak to his chances remaining high, via stats available on Masters.com. Johnson was hit-and-miss off the tee, posting two rounds of accurate driving and two rounds well below the field’s average. His distance, often one of his best weapons, can be hampered by the accuracy but offers higher-loft approaches to the green when it’s dialed in, such as Round 3 in the 2016 Masters when he outdrove the field by 34 yards on average.
His putting and play around the greens was in line with many of the other leaders, though his sand save percentage struggled a bit.
Ultimately, he carded three double bogeys in his Tournament and yet was within striking distance of the leaders on Sunday. So if, as is often the case, he can avoid momentum-stopping play on a single hole, you may just see him putting on the Green Jacket at the 2017 Masters Tournament.
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Photo credit: By roanokecollege (Masters Tournament Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons