Top-ranked Dustin Johnson got off to a bit of a rocky start, but then rolled to victory in the 84th Masters.
The 36-year-old Johnson closed with a 4-under-par 68 to win by five strokes over Cameron Smith of Australia and Sungjae Im of South Korea, claiming his first Green Jacket at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.
The traditional first major of the season was moved from April to November because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“I dreamed about winning the Masters as a kid and it still feels like a dream,” said DJ, who claimed his 24th PGA Tour victory, including the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont. “This is the major I wanted to win more than any of them.
“I made those early bogeys, but I didn’t hit really bad shots and gave myself good looks for par. Then I made birdie at No. 6 and that kind of calmed me down. I was nervous all day, but I’m proud of the way I handled myself.
“This is something I’ll never forget.”
DJ recovered from bogeys on the fourth and fifth holes with six birdies, including three in a row on the back nine and recorded a Masters record of 20-under 268 to break the Masters record of 270 set by Tiger Woods in 1997 and tied by Jordan Spieth in 2015.
Smith shot 69 with four birdies on the front nine to put some pressure on Johnson and became the first player in Masters history to post scores in the 60s for all four rounds, while Im made two birdies in a flawless back nine to also finish at 69 in his first appearance at Augusta.
“That’s pretty cool, I didn’t know until you told me,” Smith said to Amanda Balionis of CBS about his achievement. “I did some good scrambling all week and didn’t make many bogeys. I managed to get through pretty good.”
Said Im: “My goal coming in this week was just to make the cut, but to tie for second is unbelievable. My accuracy wasn’t as good today as the first three rounds, but my scrambling was pretty good.”
Third-ranked Justin Thomas, the 2017 PGA champion, carded a score of 71 and was eight shots back in 12th, while fifth-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who failed in his sixth attempt to win the Masters and complete the Career Grand Slam by winning the Masters, totaled 69 and was one more down in a tie for fifth with Dylan Frittelli of South Africa, who wound up at 72.
“I was a little anxious coming at the start of the week because I’m trying to achieve something pretty special, but I played great after that,” said McIlroy, who opened with a 75. “It was a little different feel at this time of year, but have to be a little more relaxed at the start.”
McIlroy will get his next chance when the Masters returns to its normal date in April.
Second-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain remained probably the best player without a major title, shooting 71 with an eagle on the 15th hole and was 10 shots behind in a tie for seventh C.T. Pan of Taiwan, who shot 68, and former world No. 1 Brooks Koepka, recovering from knee and hip injuries, who finished at 71.
Seventh-ranked Webb Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion, posted a score of 68 and was 11 shots back in a tie for 10th with Corey Conners of Canada, who wound up at 69, and Patrick Reed, who came in at 72.
Eighth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State closed with a 70 and finished in a tie for 17th with 10th-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, who had a 72.
Sixth-ranked Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis, the reigning U.S. Open champion, tied for 34th after a 73, and fourth-ranked Collin Morikawa, the reigning PGA champion from La Canada Flintridge and Cal, finished 44th after a 74.
Defending champion Tiger Woods, a five-time Masters champion, hit three balls into Rae’s Creek and made an ugly 10 on the 12th hole, but birdied five of the last six holes to salvage a 76 to tie for 38th.
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