Sports Specs with Sam

Three main takeaways from the Masters

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This year’s Masters Tournament, usually the first of four major championships in professional golf every year, took place in Nov. instead of April after postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The iconic backdrop of azalea flowers usually seen at Augusta National was replaced by fall leaves this year, in a Masters tournament unlike anyone has ever seen before.

Dustin Johnson wins his first green jacket

After winning his first major championship in 2016 at the U.S. Open, Dustin Johnson has had several chances to lock up a second major, including at Augusta National and has fallen short.

Johnson was close to winning a second major this year, as he held the 54-hole lead going into the final round in the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in August.

Johnson was outdueled by Colin Morikawa in that tournament, who shot 64 (six under par) in the final round to win by two strokes.

Johnson also finished second in the Masters in 2019, losing by one stroke to Tiger Woods.

Johnson has finished second in all four major championships over his career, so even with a four-stroke lead going into Sunday of this tournament, he had to prove he could get it done.

“I’m sure a lot of you all think there were doubts in my mind, just because I had been there. I’m in this position a lot of times,” Johnson said after the win. “When am I going to have the lead and finish off a major?”

Johnson made it look easy all week, as he ultimately won the tournament by five strokes and finished 20-under-par, breaking the record for lowest tournament score in Masters history.

Johnson is the number one player in the world rankings and should not be even close to done winning major championships in his career.

Johnson is one of the few on the PGA Tour who has no glaring weakness to his game.

He is one of the best in the game driving the ball, consistently being one of the leaders in driving distance. He is also a dangerous iron player and has a consistent putting stroke.

Rory McIlroy, one of the best in the game in his own right and Johnson’s playing partner on Thursday and Friday for this tournament, was singing Johnson’s praises after their round on Friday, particularly about the attitude Johnson approaches the game with.

“I think he’s got one of the best attitudes towards the game of golf in the history of the game,” McIlroy said.

Johnson’s ability to appear unflappable is one of his signature traits and is surely admired by many.

Johnson proved this week that he can finish on Sunday in a major after failing several times in recent years, so he will undoubtedly be a favorite to win a major again next year. 

“It definitely proved that I can do it,” Johnson said.

DeChambeau has disappointing week

Bryson DeChambeau was the favorite to win the Masters going into this week, riding high off his U.S. Open victory at Winged Foot Golf Club in September.

DeChambeau leads the PGA Tour in driving distance, which is known to be a huge advantage in particular at Augusta National, which is a long, hilly course with several par-5s that are easily reachable in two shots for longer hitters.

DeChambeau said going into the week that because of his longer driving distance, he would be considering par for him on the course to be 67, not 72.

Many have pointed out that by his own measure, DeChambeau shot 18 over par for the week.

DeChambeau finished the week tied for 34th at two under par and was never in contention over the weekend.

DeChambeau even finished behind 63-year-old Bernhard Langer, who made history as the oldest player to ever make the cut at the Masters.

DeChambeau will continue to be one of the favorites to win major championships down the road and should still be one of the favorites next April at the next Masters.

His advantage driving the golf ball is too strong to not put him in contention frequently and his iron play and short game continue to improve.

“I made way too many mistakes that I’ve got to talk about with my caddie and go, hey, how do we not make these mistakes anymore, how can we work better as a team to have that not happen,” DeChambeau said after his round on Sunday.

Woods teases on Thursday, ultimately has disappointing week

Last April, Tiger Woods won his 15th major championship and fifth green jacket at Augusta, completing potentially the most historic comeback in the history of sports.

This year Woods came to Augusta looking to defend his title, but faced an uphill battle as he has played very little competitive golf in 2020 and has mostly struggled when he has been on the course.

On Thursday, Woods looked poised to contend, shooting a 4-under-par 68, tying for his best opening round in his career at the Masters.

Every aspect of his game looked great, as he drove the ball well off the tee, hit solid iron shots and had great speed on the greens.

On Friday, due to weather delays Woods only finished half of his round, which left him almost 27 holes to play on Saturday.

Woods did not look sharp for the rest of the weekend and his back, which has undergone several surgeries, looked stiff all weekend.

Woods closed out his week with a 4-over-par 76 on Sunday, which saw him birdie 5 of his last 6 holes after shooting a 10 on the famous par-3 12th hole, which is the worst single-hole score of his career.

Woods is still chasing Jack Nicklaus’s major championship record, which is at 18 versus Tiger’s 15.

The Masters may be the best venue for Woods to chase another major title, since it is a place he has won at five times and he knows it like the back of his hand.

Many of the other major championship venues do not suit his game nearly as well, which was seen earlier this year as he failed to contend at TPC Harding Park and Winged Foot.

It is difficult to imagine Woods winning four more majors in his career given the difficulty he has staying in good health with his tender back and knees.

However, last year’s Masters proved that anything is possible.

Janssen can be reached at [email protected]