The greatest week in sports is upon us: Opening Day in the MLB, the conclusion of a wild March Madness, and of course, golf’s most storied tournament begins this Thursday.
Even with all the excitement surrounding other sports, this year’s Masters has the potential to be the most exciting sporting event of them all. Golf has an extreme wealth of talent right now, and many of its best players are hunting for a career defining win. What better place to than at Augusta National?
Jordan Spieth is looking to return to dominance, Rory McIlroy needs another major to revitalize his career, Jason Day must win at Augusta to be considered great, and Dustin Johnson, who I believe will win this tournament, is finally reaching his full potential and needs to capitalize while he can. Not to mention players like Patrick Reed, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, and Hideki Matsuyama, who have yet to elevate their games to the major level.
The eight players I mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potential champions of this year’s tournament. No tournament is more coveted, or desired, by professional golfers.
So why do I think DJ will pull it out? It’s simple: Like Hansel from Zoolander, DJ is just hot right now. His ball-striking has been off the charts, and his putting (which has been his famed achilles heal) has been one of his best assets of late. Ever since he started hitting a fade, he’s been nearly unstoppable, increasing his accuracy and control exponentially, while remaining the longest hitter on tour.
In fact, in his last three starts, he literally has been unstoppable, winning all three events without breaking much of a sweat. He no longer is just a long hitter. His wedge game is extremely precise, his putting is well above average, and he has seemingly eliminated fatal course management flaws that lost him so many tournaments in the past.
However, even with DJ’s extremely improved game, critics worry Johnson lacks the guile to win at Augusta. The course is incredibly intricate and requires massive attention to detail, something that many people believe Dustin doesn’t possess (most likely due to his less-than impressive articulation of the game in media interviews). But even with all its tricky slopes and delicate nuances, Augusta National has not strictly favored ‘smart’ golfers such as Spieth (winner in 2015) or Zach Johnson (winner in 2007).
Some of the longest hitters in recent memory have won the Masters. Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson, and Tiger Woods account for nine of the last 20 Masters champions, and all were some of the longest hitters at the time of their respective wins. DJ hits it even further than almost all of the aforementioned players, and currently is a better putter than Bubba or Scott have ever been. His insane athletic prowess (seriously, the man can 360 dunk, look it up) is Tiger-like, and his steady-eddy mental game has been rock solid over the last year.
DJ placed fourth in 2016 and sixth in 2015 at the Masters, so his game fits the course well-enough, but Johnson was also nowhere near the level he’s at now in either 2015 or 2016.
Dustin has been nearly mistake free his last three starts, and if he continues to play the way he has, he’ll be wearing a green jacket next Sunday night.