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Dustin Johnson is no stranger to Augusta National, and the American became agonisingly close to winning the coveted green jacket last year. Johnson joined Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele, who too, finished just one shot behind the winner, Tiger Woods. And following that disappointment, as well as a T2 finish at the PGA Championship and T6 placing at the US Open earlier this year, there’s no doubting Johnson would love to return to winning ways – and add to his solitary major title.
His preparations for this year’s unconventional autumnal Masters have been stilted, somewhat. While, the world number 1 is amongst the favourites when it comes to the latest US Masters golf odds, alongside Justin Thomas at 11/1 at the time of writing, he’s only recently returned to action.
With under a week to go until the Masters kicks off, Johnson has come out of isolation, after he contracted the coronavirus just last month. With one more warm-up event to play before Augusta National plays host to this year’s unusual final major of the season, Johnson will headline a series of contenders at the Houston Open. He returned to practice earlier in the week, having missed out on playing in the CJ Cup and the Zozo Championship. In fact, it was while travelling en route to the former in Las Vegas that Johnson tested positive for the virus, despite feeling “pretty much asymptomatic”, and ultimately was forced to withdraw and quarantine.
He told reporters: “I couldn’t really figure out if that was because I was stuck in a hotel room for like 11 days not doing anything or it was COVID that made me feel that way. I didn’t leave the room for 11 days; I was just laying around kind of doing nothing. It was one of those things I was, like, waiting to get sick because you know you have it and you’re sitting there. But for me it was very mild, and obviously I’m very thankful for that.”
There’s no doubt, it would have come as a shock, especially as Johnson won the FedEx Cup back in September. He finished three strokes ahead of both Schauffele and Thomas, to grab his maiden win in the tournament, but his third PGA victory of the year. Thankfully, DJ is deemed to be no longer contagious, and therefore, won’t be required to test ahead of the Houston Open or the Masters. Not only does he feel healthy, but it appears he’s overcome the knee problems which plagued the start of his season.
How he will fare at Augusta is anyone’s guess, but with a warm-up event in the bank, there’s hoping the enforced two-week break won’t have interrupted his current hot streak.
In the last four Masters, he has cemented a top-10 finish, and is the only player in the field to record those kinds of stats for the past four editions. As well as the aforementioned T2 finish last year, DJ finished T6 in 2015, T4 the following year and after missing out in 2017, finished T10 in 2018. After last year’s performance, in which he came from T7 in the third round, to very nearly be awarded the green jacket, you could say, he’s knocking on the door – and should his form continue, it would be the fairytale ending to his topsy-turvy season.
DJ summed it up nicely with the quote he told reporters – “My health is good,” Johnson said. “The state of my game is … undetermined.” Augusta National can be notoriously unforgiving, so watch this space.