Dustin Johnson has to be considered the golfer to beat coming into this year’s Masters. The winner of the one and only November Masters is on a different level than everyone else coming into the second week of April. He won last year’s tournament by five shots after taking a four-shot lead into Sunday, and he is currently the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world. Johnson will make it difficult for hopefuls like Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, and Rory McIlroy who are looking to win their first green jacket.
Event: 2021 Masters Tournament
Category: PGA Tour
Date: April 8 -11, 2021
Location: Augusta National Golf Course, Augusta, Georgia
— Dustin Johnson (@DJohnsonPGA) April 1, 2021
2020: Dustin Johnson -20
2019: Tiger Woods -13
2018: Patrick Reed -15
2017: Sergio Garcia -9
2016: Danny Willett -5
The absence of Tiger Woods from this year’s event will be noticeable. Woods is a five-time champion and the winner of the last April Masters. He had hoped to run down Jack Nicklaus, but that’s looking like a dismal prospect following his car crash a few months ago.
We saw Johnson set a course record at Augusta National last November. He shot two 65s on his way to posting a 268, easily beating out Cameron Smith and Im Sung-Jae. Justin Thomas finished in fourth place, but he was a whopping eight shots behind Johnson.
There is not a more distinctive course in the United States than Augusta National. While it doesn’t have the natural beauty of Pebble Beach, an iconic hole like TPC Sawgrass, or the difficulty of Winged Foot, it boasts a prestige you won’t find elsewhere in America. Even casual golfers know about Amen Corner, and the fact that every hole is named after a tree or shrub on the course brings a level of continued nostalgia. The azaleas on the 13th hole have become particularly beloved, as Jim Nantz and Verne Lundquist have waxed poetic on them on the broadcast.
While Johnson hasn’t finished T25 in his last three events, he has finished runner-up in the last two PGA Tour Championships. Johnson was the FedEx Cup champion last year, and he finished T6 at the US Open in September.
Bryson DeChambeau won his first major in September when he was the only golfer in contention to break 70 in the final day of the US Open. DeChambeau was the only golfer to end up under par with a -6 at the notoriously difficult Winged Foot. He has yet to finish in the top 20 at the Masters though. The big hitter has made the cut in each of his four appearances, but he has finished 21st, 38th, 29th, and 34th.
Although he has only won five PGA Tour events in his short career, Jon Rahm is one of the top golfers on the circuit. Rahm won the Memorial and the BMW Championship last year, and he has been in contention at most of the top events over the last six months. He finished T7 at the November Masters, T5 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, and T9 at the Players Championship.
Rory McIlroy needs to win a Masters to complete the career grand slam. He was won the PGA Championship (twice), the US Open, and the British Open, but he has yet to win at Augusta. His best performance was a fourth-place finish in 2015. McIlroy has finished in the top ten in six of the last seven Masters tournaments, and he still has plenty of time at the age of 31.