WASHINGTON: Defending champion Dustin Johnson says he does not feel shortchanged by having only five months to reign as Masters champion after winning the green jacket last November at Augusta National.
But the 36-year-old American expects the famed course will play much harder and quicker next month than when he shattered the course record after a Covid-19 pandemic postponement to capture his second major title.
“November, the greens were soft. You could be a lot more aggressive with longer clubs. They would stop and hold the greens,” Johnson said in a Masters conference call.
“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.”
That means lightning-fast greens and formidable shotmaking choices among the Georgia pines, where world number one Johnson won in a tournament-record 20-under par last year.
After growing up only an hour north of the course, Johnson is fine with his reign lasting only five months instead of the usual 12.
“No, I do not feel shortchanged. It wouldn’t bother me if I only had it for a day,” Johnson said of the green jacket. “The coolest thing was probably going back up to Augusta last week, wearing the jacket on the grounds.”
After his journey down Magnolia Lane on March 2 to 3, Johnson went down memory lane in his first round at Augusta National since winning, declaring the course in “immaculate condition” and spent a night there for the first time.
Johnson, whose only other major title came at the 2016 US Open at Oakmont, says the Masters victory provided a measure of validation.
Johnson, who withdrew from Tokyo Olympics consideration to focus on the British Open and WGC St. Jude Invitational, said he pondered trying for more distance such as reigning US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, but didn’t see any advantage for him.