Eagles lifted Johnson in final round
Dustin Johnson's Masters Tournament debut last year was going up in smoke when he reached the 13th hole in the final round.
After respectable rounds of 72-70-72, Johnson was 6-over for his final round after 12 holes. He needed to par in to shoot 78.
The 25-year-old South Carolina native suddenly got hot.
He eagled the par-5 13th and par-4 14th holes, then birdied the par-5 15th. He parred in to salvage 73 and tie for 30th.
"I'd struggled a little bit starting out, then played really good on the back side," said Johnson, who shot 4-under-par 32 on the back nine after shooting 41 on the front nine in the final round.
"Making eagle on No. 14 got me going a little bit, because I was a little bit down on myself," Johnson said. "I definitely wasn't performing as well as I wanted to, and that gave me a little boost. It gave me some energy to finish it off."
His back-nine heroics also helped him tie two long-standing Masters records. Johnson became only the second person to make consecutive eagles in the Masters (Dan Pohl did it on Nos. 13 and 14 in 1982).
The eagle on No. 14 in the final round gave Johnson four in the tournament. Only one player, Bruce Crampton in 1974, has ever had that many eagles in a tournament.
"I had a good chance at eagle on No. 15 (in the final round), too," Johnson said.
His eagle on the 440-yard 14th hole was one of the most memorable shots in the tournament.
His drive hit a tree on the left edge of the fairway and ended up in the rough on some pine straw. He faced 182 yards to the pin, which was cut in the back-right of the green.
"When my caddie gave me a number, I said this is the absolute perfect number for this shot," Johnson said. "I hit a 6-iron and I knew it was good when I hit it, but I didn't think it was going in. When I saw everybody behind the green jump up and down, I knew I'd made it. That was pretty cool, right after I made a 30-footer on 13 for eagle."
Johnson led the field with a 308.4-yard driving average. He said being long off the tee is "obviously an advantage, but the iron shots are what they put the premium on. Having just the right distance control allows you to keep your shot below the hole and gives you a putt you can be aggressive with."
For the second year in a row, Johnson comes into the Masters riding an early season victory at Pebble Beach. In 2009, he won a rain-shortened 54-hole event. This year, it went all 72 holes and he won by a shot with a birdie on the final hole.
"Any time you get a win, it means a lot, especially since I've been working hard," Johnson said. "Coming down 18 and making a birdie to win by one is definitely a memory I'll never forget. In the first win I had, I birdied 17 and 18 to win by one. They will always be special."
So was his arrival on the grounds at Augusta National Golf Club last year as a competitor.
"The drive up, the first time ever driving up Magnolia Lane, was an unbelievable experience," said Johnson, who grew up in Columbia, attended Coastal Carolina and lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C. "I just remembered going as a kid. It's a lot different inside the ropes instead of outside the ropes."
Reach David Westin at (706) 823-3224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Masters Record: Dustin Johnson