World number one golfer American Dustin Johnson won his first Masters by five strokes finishing with a record-breaking low score of 20 under par at Augusta. The 36-year-old posted a four-under 68 on Sunday to hold off Australian Cameron Smith and South Korea’s Sungjae Im.
A brief charge by Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy came too late as he eventually finished nine shots back in tied fifth. Tiger Woods, the defending champion, carded a 10 on the par-three 12th but recovered with five birdies to finish one under.
Pre-tournament favourite Bryson DeChambeau, who won the US Open in September, endured an erratic week and a final-day 73 put him on two under par for the tournament. Justin Thomas, World number three, finished fourth at 12 under after carding a two-under 70 on the final day.
The performance that Johnson displayed during this unprecedented November staging of the Masters was superb enough to see him beat the record lowest winning score of 18 under par set by Woods in 1997 and Jordan Spieth in 2015.
“It’s hard. I was nervous all day. I could feel it,” confessed Johnson, who will be defending his title in five months’ time when the Masters returns to its usual calendar in April.
“The Masters is for me the biggest tournament and the one I wanted to win the most. I am just very proud of the way I handled myself and finished off the tournament.
“It still feels like a dream. As a kid, I was dreaming about winning the Masters and having Tiger put the Green Jacket on you still feels like a dream.
“But I am here and what a great feeling it is. I could not feel more excited.”
He also becomes the first world number one to win the tournament since Woods in 2002. Australian Smith, who finished tied for fifth in 2018, also made history by becoming the first player to shoot all four of his rounds in the 60s at Augusta.
The foundation for Johnson’s victory was set with an opening 65 that gave him a share of the lead, and he carded another 65 on Saturday to become the first player in Masters history to achieve such a feat and join Spieth as the only men to reach 16 under par after three rounds.
The world’s best player produced such serenely sensational golf on one of the game’s most iconic stages that it was beautiful to watch. He made a great par-save at two and birdied the third but successive bogeys followed as the impressive 22-year-old Im and Smith, 27, applied pressure.
Johnson has previously failed to win major titles on four occasions after holding a 54-hole lead. But here, his steely focus never wavered, not even when his lead was cut to one after five holes.
The American recovered with a birdie on the par-three sixth as Im made his first bogey of the day and another birdie at eight saw Johnson lead Smith by two as he headed to the back nine.
Smith, in the group ahead, had been scrambling superbly but bogeyed 11 to hand the leader a three-stroke advantage once more.
Despite missing two tournaments while in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19, Johnson came to Augusta having won the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup and in great form.
He successfully negotiated Amen Corner with a birdie at 13 and made it three in a row through 14 and 15 to accelerate to 20 under par.
There was finally time for a beaming smile as he tapped in for par at the 18th to complete his impressive victory to a smattering of applause from the lucky few gathered round the green.