Chilled. That’s the best – and probably only - way to describe Dustin Johnson.
The world No.1 rocked up at his Masters press conference this afternoon in the form of his life and barely said a word.
Asked to explain his personality, he didn’t offer much.
“I’ve no idea,” said Johnson, who has three wins on the spin and is the undisputed favourite for the green jacket. “You’d have to ask someone that knows me. I’m pretty laid-back.”
The US Open champ is famously short on words, a far cry from his life on Instagram.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in my game right now,” he said, with the silence in the room almost deafening. “But anything can happen.”
David Duval, who watched Johnson’s press conference via a live feed on Golf Channel, stood up for his fellow American when he realised he might face criticism for a rather subdued presser. Duval reminisced that he’d won the Players Championship and then 'woke up the next day as world No.1', something he thinks the media misunderstand in the grand scheme of things.
“(Dustin) is the best player in the world, but it doesn’t mean he has the answers,” said Duval.
Looking like he’d rather be somewhere else, Johnson did get some laughs when he said he realised he could be the best player in the world. “When Tiger stopped playing," he said.
The big-hitting American tied for fourth last year and tied for sixth
the year before. He currently leads the driving stats but, more
importantly, tops the greens in regulation stats. He says the trick to
winning at Augusta, though, is holing putts.
Johnson says he’s “always liked the course” and that it sets up nicely for his game, even though he’s moved to a cut off the tee with his driver. Such a move would be considered risky for others, but it’s worked for him, and despite Augusta National being largely a right-to-left course, he only singled out the tenth as one hole where’s going to need to hit a draw.
“It’s a tough course, because everything in your bag needs to be working to play well. I’ve done better in last couple of years and feel like I have a chance. I’m playing well coming into this week and can hopefully continue that and give myself a chance to win on Sunday.”
Johnson, who admitted he doesn’t know how many weeks he’s been world No.1, had some near misses before landing his first major at the US Open last summer.
2010 US Open – threw away a three-shot lead in the final round, with the USA Today calling it ‘one of the worst chokes in golf history’.
2010 US PGA – assessed a penalty on the 18th after grounding his club in what he thought was a ‘waste area’. There were over 1,000 bunkers at Whistling Straits and players were warned about the rule via a sign in the locker room.
2011 Open – Johnson surprisingly shanked one out-of-bounds on the 14th a Royal St George’s to blow another great chance.
2015 US Open – missed an eagle putt on the 72nd hole to win, then missed the return to make the play-off, handing Jordan Spieth his second-straight major.
Adding to the pressure of this week is the statistic everyone is throwing about: no favourite has won at Augusta National since 2005.
“Everything has got to be working this week,” he said. “Just like any major. Drive it well, hit your irons well and putt it well. That’s what it takes to win. You need to bring your best stuff to win.
Pressed on that stat in relation to himself, again, he didn’t offer much. “I don’t know,” he said. “First time I’ve ever been favourite.”