5: 39 PM ET
Bob HarigESPN Senior Creator
- Senior golf author for ESPN.com
- Covered golf for additional than 20 years
- Earned Evans Scholarship to reduction Indiana College
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Right here is the elegance of a success the Masters: While it is probably going you’ll well well likely want to present back the golf green jacket will need to you enable Augusta Nationwide, they by no technique actually expend it some distance off from you.
Dustin Johnson knows he has the one he earned in November, one who will always be in his locker on the 2nd floor of the clubhouse. And so stepping to the tee Thursday for the first round of his protection meant a sense of composed.
“No additional stress,” Johnson acknowledged of his first round as defending champion. “If anything, I’m rather of additional relaxed available. As of late, it lawful finished tricky.”
And that used to be the legend of the first round of the 2021 Masters.
Johnson shot 2-over-par 74, making a disturbing double-bogey 6 on the 18th hole. It broke a fade of 11 straight sub-par rounds at Augusta since a gap-round 73 in 2018.
Route stipulations had been nothing savor avid gamers noticed five months ago when the 2020 Masters used to be finished in November due to the the coronavirus pandemic. Johnson chanced on it to his liking then, taking pictures a match-file 268 (20 below) to steal his 2nd main championship.
Things had been diversified Thursday. Powerful diversified.
“I felt savor I finished rather noteworthy, too,” Johnson acknowledged. “Got it round rather noteworthy. Clearly, the final hole roughly stings rather of bit. But scamper to the vary, hit a pair of balls. I feel savor I’m swinging neatly, playing profitable. Looking forward to the remainder of the week.”
Johnson, on the opposite hand, admits his sport isn’t very any longer rather on the extent that it used to be in November.
The No. 1-ranked participant on this planet, Johnson came into the Masters after some middling results, by his standards. He didn’t assemble the final 16 on the WGC-Dell Applied sciences Match Play Championship, and he used to be technique out of competition on the Avid gamers Championship (tie for 48th) and the WGC-Workday Championship (T54).
That adopted an spectacular stretch of golf. Over his outdated 11 tournaments, going back to the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in August, Johnson by no technique executed out of the high 12. He had seven high-3 finishes in that stretch, alongside side three victories — his final on the Saudi Worldwide in February.
But Johnson, who led the discipline in greens in regulation on the Masters in November, hit lawful 10 of 18 on Thursday. He furthermore had two three-putt greens. And after chipping in for a birdie on the 11th and making one other on the par-5 13th, he used to be no longer ready to set solid, making a bogey on the 16th after which working into grief on the 18th.
After a wayward pressure into the best likely trees, Johnson punched through to the some distance facet of the golf green, from the attach he pitched to 35 feet previous the pin. He then three-putted, lacking a 4-footer.
Now Johnson has some floor to assemble up with a sport that isn’t very any longer rather on the extent it used to be when he gained right here five months ago.
“It just isn’t rather as engaging because it used to be,” Johnson acknowledged. “It is extra the irons are no longer rather as engaging as they had been. I feel savor I’m using it profitable and striking it profitable. Appropriate need to dial the irons in rather of bit.”