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Posted November 14, 2020, 7:41 pm
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Dustin Johnson in full flight at Masters, shoots 65 to lead by 4, but can he close the deal this time?

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Dustin Johnson made an early statement in the third round of the Masters, drilling a 5-iron from 222 yards that stopped inside 2 feet from the hole for eagle.

“He nearly holed it for a two,” said Johnson’s caddie and brother, A.J. “I’ve been on the bag for a lot of great rounds but that was the most in-control round at a major championship I can remember. It felt like we were trying to make birdie all day, and there’s no better feeling.”

Johnson grabbed the lead with that eagle and extended it to four strokes after shooting his second 7-under 65 at Augusta National Golf Club this week, becoming the first player to shoot multiple rounds of 65 or better at the Masters.

Dustin Johnson on cusp of winning his first Masters after second 65 Saturday

It was a ballstriking clinic by Johnson, who hit all 14 fairways at Augusta National for the first time in his career and just the second time that he’s hit every fairway in a round on Tour (2015 U.S. Open, 3rd round). Johnson also has hit 47 greens in regulation through three rounds, the most for any player through three rounds at the Masters since Tiger Woods in 2001 (48), the week he finished off The Tiger Slam.

“We’re looking at the No. 1 player in the world showing off his skills on a soft golf course,” said Golf Channel’s Justin Leonard. “This is what we’ve been waiting for from Dustin Johnson, a performance like today. This is what we expected in 2017, we’ve been waiting for it to come. We’re right on the doorstep now.”

Johnson was four under for his first four holes and then nearly holed a wedge at No. 7 for another tap-in birdie. Out in 31, Johnson was picking apart Augusta National like it was TPC Boston during the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Jamie Mulligan, instructor for Patrick Cantlay, witnessed Johnson’s brilliance and cracked, “It may be time to throw the kitchen sink. DJ’s a pretty big boy, so, we may need two kitchen sinks.”

On the second nine, Johnson made a pair of 2-putt birdies at the par 5s, Nos. 13 and 15, and never threatened to make bogey until he missed the 18th green to the right. He made a nifty up-and-down to finish at 16-under 200, tying the 54-hole tournament scoring record, and four strokes ahead of Abraham Ancer, Cameron Smith and Sungjae Im.

Photos: Johnson's Third Round | Leaderboard

But they don’t hand out green jackets on Saturday and Johnson has failed to close 54 holes leads at majors on four previous occasions. He’s been the modern-day Greg Norman, always a threat to win but somehow finding a way not to. Johnson doesn’t need to be reminded that of his 23 victories only one is a major, the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont.

“Because he looks like nothing bothers him people forget how much he wants to win,” said Johnson’s swing instructor, Claude Harmon III. “He’s obviously aware of the fact that he’s only won one major and probably should’ve won more, but his philosophy has always been that all he can do is keep giving himself more opportunities.”

There may never be a better chance for Johnson, who grew up an hour away from Augusta National in Columbia, South Carolina, digging up the sod at Weed Hill Driving Range and pretending that every putt was to win the Masters.

“They had lights on the range, and most nights I would shut the lights off when I was leaving,” Johnson said.

With 18 holes to go, Johnson is poised to win the tournament he’s always dreamed of winning, but to do so he’ll have to close the deal, something that’s been his person kryptonite as recently as the PGA Championship in August. But Johnson prefers to look forward and doesn’t seem too concerned about the past.

“If I can play like I did today, I think it will break that streak,” he said.

Johnson ties Spieth's low first 54-hole Masters scoring record

 

Hole By Hole Scores - Dustin Johnson

Round 3
Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 OUT 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In Tot
Par 4 5 4 3 4 3 4 5 4 36 4 4 3 5 4 5 3 4 4 36 72
Rnd 4 3 3 2 4 3 3 5 4 31 4 4 3 4 4 4 3 4 4 34 65
Tot -9 -11 -12 -13 -13 -13 -14 -14 -14 -14 -14 -14 -14 -15 -15 -16 -16 -16 -16 -16 -16
Round 2
Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 OUT 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In Tot
Par 4 5 4 3 4 3 4 5 4 36 4 4 3 5 4 5 3 4 4 36 72
Rnd 4 5 4 3 4 3 4 5 3 35 4 3 2 4 5 6 3 4 4 35 70
Tot -7 -7 -7 -7 -7 -7 -7 -7 -8 -8 -8 -9 -10 -11 -10 -9 -9 -9 -9 -9 -9
Round 1
Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 OUT 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In Tot
Par 4 5 4 3 4 3 4 5 4 36 4 4 3 5 4 5 3 4 4 36 72
Rnd 4 3 4 3 4 3 4 4 4 33 4 4 2 5 4 4 2 4 3 32 65
Tot 0 -2 -2 -2 -2 -2 -2 -3 -3 -3 -3 -3 -4 -4 -4 -5 -6 -6 -7 -7 -7

Tournament

 
 
 
 
 
 
2 14 36 2 0 0
Eagles Birdies Pars Bogeys 2x Bogeys Other

Performance by Round

  Par 3s Par 4s Par 5s
Rnd 1 -2 -1 -4
Rnd 2 -1 -1 E
Rnd 3 -1 -2 -4
All Rnds -4 -4 -8