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Dustin Johnson wins first Masters title

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Words: Ben Champion

World number one Dustin Johnson entered the record books as he won the 84th Masters title in record-breaking style on Sunday afternoon. The 36-year-old American claimed his second major title of the back of a string of near misses in the last few years and secured a five-stroke margin of victory after a final round 68.

Ending the tournament at 20-under par 268, beating the previous tournament best of 18-under par set by Tiger Woods, in 1997 and Jorden Spieth, in 2015. Johnson became the first top-ranked golfer to win since Woods in 2002. He also surpassed another Woods record by compiling his 11th straight round under par at Augusta National GC.

Five-time Masters champion Woods was in contention after an opening-round 68. He achieved an unwelcome record in his 4th round, racking up a 7-over par 10 on the notorious Augusta National’s 12th hole. His worst single-hole score as a professional.

In the following group, Johnson avoided the perilous 12th hole and Rae’s Creek which has ended the hopes of so many Masters hopefuls in years gone by, and walked serenely onwards to his triumph. Korean Sungjae Kim and Australia’s Cameron Smith tied for second with a 15-under par score.

At the end of proceedings, Woods presented Johnson with the famous green jacket in Butler Cabin, where Johnson admitted to feeling the pressure going into the final round, despite his usual calm demeanour.

“I was nervous all day. I could feel it. The Masters to me is the biggest tournament, it’s the one I wanted to win the most,” he said. “I’m just very proud of the way I handled myself and the way I finished off the golf tournament.”

“Honestly, it still feels like a dream,” Johnson added. “As a kid, dreaming about winning and having Tiger put the green jacket on you, it still seems like it’s a dream, but I’m here and what a great feeling it is and I couldn’t be more excited.”

Taking a four-shot lead into the final round, Johnson was the red-hot favourite to don the green jacket at the end of the days play despite being 0-4 in previous majors when holding the 54-hole lead.

After birdieing the third hole, he offered his nearest pursuers a ray of light with bogies on the 4th and 5th holes ending a 33-hole bogey-free run. Im a Masters debutant moved to within one of Johnson after birdies on the 2nd and 3rd holes, that would be the closest anyone would get to Johnson on Sunday.

The Australian Cameron Smith hung tough with some spectacular golf, but a hat-trick of birdies for Johnson at the 13th, 14th and 15th holes gave him a comfortable cushion as he became the plater in Masters history to reach 20-under par.

Behind the leading trio, was Justin Thomas (4th) on 12-under par, Rory Mcllroy and Dylan Frittelli tied 5th a further shot back. Mcllroy, seeking the career Grand Slam, set up an opportunity to challenge with three birdies on the outward nine, but a bogie on the 10th halted his progress and he was unable to capitalize on the back nine.

“I didn’t have a great start but over the last 54 holes, only two bogeys, a lot of great golf in there,” McIlroy said. “Not overthinking it as much could be the key for me.”

The feel-good story of the week was the evergreen performance of the German Bernhard Langer, a two-time Masters Champion. At 63 and the oldest player to make the cut in Masters history, he fired a 4th round 71 to finish at 285. Langer was one stroke ahead of Masters favourite and current US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, who closed with a 73. DeChambeau never quite got to grips with the challenging Augusta National layout he had been set to overpower.

“I had some weird things happen to me I just couldn’t foresee,” DeChambeau said.

“I’ve got to fix this dizziness or whatever is going on. I’ve got to get healthy first and foremost.”

The world’s leading golfers will not have to wait long for another chance at Masters redemption. With the famous major set to move back to its April time slot next year.

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