The Road to the Green Jacket

Dustin Johnson received the first green jacket of his career at the 2020 Masters golf championship at Augusta National.

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By Shirley Tan

After Dustin Johnson knocked in his final putt of the 2020 Masters, he led by five strokes over his closest opponent, good to finally put him over the edge and allow him to don his first green jacket of his career. In the process, Johnson overcame the demons that had plagued him in the recent past.

Johnson had a 12-foot putt on the final hole of the 2015 U.S. Open. If he had made that putt, he would have been crowned champion of one of the four majors in golf. If he missed it, he would be in the playoffs with a good chance of winning the tournament. But Johnson did the unthinkable and three-putted, causing him to lose the tournament. It was one of the greatest chokes in the history of golf. In this year’s Masters, Johnson started the final day with a four-shot lead. History, however, seemed to be repeating itself as Johnson’s lead was quickly whittled to just one stroke after the first five holes. This time, Johnson was determined to not let that happen again and was not only able to right the ship, but also ended up with the lowest total score in the history of the tournament (in golf, the lower the score the better).

The Masters, one of the four majors in golf, is usually held in April but was delayed until November this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The historic Augusta National Golf Club reviewed the safety guidelines during the 2020 PGA Championship, a major held in August, and carried out a similar approach last week. All players were tested for the virus, volunteers maintained the recommended six-feet-apart instruction, and spectators were not allowed.

Johnson started off smooth in his first round, with five pars, no bogeys (one over par), and an eagle (two under par) in the second hole. His second round on Saturday was his worst performance of the four; he had two bogeys in the 14th and 15th holes and only four pars. With a bogey-free third round under his belt, Johnson approached the final round with runner-ups South Korean Im Sung-jae, Australian Cameron Smith, and Mexican Abraham Ancer all tied four strokes back. Ancer dropped to 13th place with six bogeys while Johnson coasted ahead of Sung-jae and Smith after securing three birdies starting on hole 13 of the fourth round, even though he had two bogeys in the fourth and fifth holes. Sung-jae was one stroke away from Johnson’s score after the two bogeys, but Johnson's birdie in the sixth hole provided Johnson the momentum he needed to bury Sung-jae. Sung-jae and Smith tied for second after finishing a whopping five strokes back with 15 under 273.

The great Tiger Woods was never a threat to Johnson’s victory and even carded a score of 10 on a par 3 hole after hitting his ball into the water three times. Recent PGA Champion Collin Morikawa finished even further back and tied for 44th place after a flop shot that ended in the water. Bryson DeChambeau was considered one of the favorites, having won the U.S. Open a few months earlier with his overpowering drives. In the end, however, DeChambeau barely made the final cut with a two under par after bogeying two holes, which he claimed was due to dizziness.

Johnson’s celebration quickly made headlines as many professionals congratulated him on his historic victory. “Honestly, it still feels like a dream,” Johnson told a reporter. “As a kid, dreaming about winning and having Tiger put the green jacket on you, it still seems like it's a dream, but I'm here and what a great feeling it is, and I couldn't be more excited.” With a combination of perseverance and passion for the game, his long-awaited win seemed to be well worth the wait.