Dustin Johnson arrives at Augusta National for Masters defense
Perhaps the largest gallery Monday morning at Augusta National Golf Club followed defending champion Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy on the first nine.
Their practice round began shortly after 9 a.m. and, for Johnson, ended after nine holes.
He and his brother and caddie, Austin, went from the ninth green to the tournament practice facility, where Johnson hit balls and putted for about 90 minutes as instructor Claude Harmon III watched and consulted.
Johnson, the oddsmakers’ favorite, finished his practice session by making at least a dozen short putts in a row.
Pigs in a Blanket appetizer: Here's what's on the menu for Dustin Johnson's Masters Champions Dinner
Johnson remains the No. 1 player in the world but is searching for the blistering form he enjoyed last fall, when he arrived in November on a streak of five consecutive top-6 finishes, including two victories, in the previous four months.
After his Masters title, Johnson beat a strong field to win the Saudi International in January but has only one top-10 in five starts on the PGA Tour in 2021, a tie for eighth in the Genesis Invitational at Riviera in February.
He landed outside the top 40 in his last two stroke play tournaments and, as the No. 1 overall seed, failed to advance out of his group at the WGC-Match Play in Austin two weeks ago. That disappointment prompted him to make a late commitment to the Valero Texas Open but he reconsidered and withdrew from that tournament last Monday.
Dustin Johnson praised the sandwiches served at Augusta National prior to last year’s Masters, prompting some to speculate he might just select them for the Champions Dinner menu.
There will be ample time for pimento cheese and egg salad this week, for certain, but Johnson went a more traditional dinner route when choosing his menu for Tuesday night’s gathering.
The appetizers are pigs in a blanket and lobster & corn fritters. The entree is filet mignon and miso-marinated sea bass with mashed potatoes and spring vegetables. And for dessert, peach cobbler and apple pie with vanilla ice cream.