By V1 Game engineer Dallas Webster
Dustin Johnson Dismantles ANGC to win the Masters
It was a different Masters tournament this year, but Augusta National Golf Club was just as beautiful in the fall as it is in the spring. Even with softer conditions due to the early rain, Augusta National required precision shot making and a balanced game to claim the green jacket. It certainly felt different without the typical roars from patrons with eagles reverberating through the pines. It felt tamer, but the pressure of trying to win one of the golf’s most prestigious tournaments was still there.
Augusta National is an interesting golf course and home to the only major played on the same course year after year. The Masters is the major where experience seems to matter the most. A tournament where a 63-year-old Bernhard Langer can not only make the cut, but beat the tournament favorite in Bryson DeChambeau. A tournament favorite that Vegas got wrong. DeChambeau may be the longest player on tour, but what he lacks is experience at Augusta. At least good experience. His best finish at the Masters remains a T-21 as an amateur. DeChambeau’s early bad luck with a lost ball and poor driving accuracy led to his struggling to barely make the cut. The membership gets to hold its head high for at least another 5 months as more than raw distance is required to don the green jacket. This time, Vegas picked the wrong bomber.
Dustin Johnson is no stranger to strong finishes at the Masters. Contrary to DeChambeau, DJ has seemingly figured out how to navigate the undulating fairways and greens with top 10 finishes in each of the last 4 years. This includes a runner up finish to Tiger Woods just last year. However, as good as Johnson’s recent history at Augusta has been, his history with 54-hole leads in majors is not kind. Golf is hard. Golf with a big lead is very hard. Mindsets can change and it is easy for a player to go from aggressive to defensive. It is difficult to tell if Johnson is nervous as he is notorious for his steely-cold demeanor on the golf course. However, his game certainly showed a nervy start. Using the V1 Game scorecard heatmap, we can see just how unsteady the first hole holes were.
V1 Game Scorecard Heatmap
The shades of red and green for the five Strokes Gained categories (Total, Driving, Approach, Short, and Putting) indicate the quality of that part of the game on a hole-by-hole basis. Sketchy short game and putting showed up on holes three through five, indicating that maybe Johnson’s hands were not quite working as well as they typically do. He chunked a short wedge shot on 2 to leave it in a bunker and missed reasonable par putts on holes four and five. However, this Masters would not be another let down. Johnson birdied the 6th hole and really never looked back with a smattering of green across the rest of his scorecard as he separated from the field. While the last round was a master class, matching the low round of the day, it’s a four-round tournament and DJ separated himself as the best player each day. It all started with driving performance.
Johnson is a bomber. Using V1 Game analysis to look at his driving over the week, he averaged over 310 yards across all drives. This includes tee shots where he hit less than driver, like on hole 13. His long drive surpassed 350 yards on each of the first three rounds.
Long drives make the rest of the game easier as Johnson routinely has less club into greens. This is particularly important on a course like Augusta National that requires precision approach shots to get near to the hole and allow for manageable birdie putts. The slightest miscalculation can lead to balls ripping down the false fronts and undulations of the greens. However, driving distance is only valuable if it puts you in proper position for the second shot. Accuracy is also critical. Look no further than Bryson DeChambeau who led the field in distance, but was all over the golf course, hitting out of trees and into trouble. Johnson hit 78 percent of his fairways on the week, including 14 / 14 in the third round. Long and straight is a combination that typically puts distance between a player and the field.
However, long drives are useless if they don’t also translate to greens in regulation. Johnson took full advantage of his driving performance by hitting more greens than anyone else in the field. Johnson hit 60 out of 72 greens in regulation, four more than his closest competitor. This adds up to more birdie putts than everyone else in the field, but Johnson was not just hitting greens. He was hitting it close. He also led the field in proximity to the hole. V1 Game can also measure proximity to the hole, highlighting just how solid the performance was. From 175-200 yards, Johnson averaged just 29 feet from the hole.
.Johnson was long off the tee and accurate into the green, yet he still had to make putts and that’s an advantage he has never really taken during his career so far. Augusta’s putting surfaces are undulating and typically lightening fast. Bringing even the best putters in the world to their knees. Johnson has always been a streaky putter but his performance at Augusta was sensational. For the week, he had just a single three putt. He made all of his putts of six feet or less. He gained strokes putting for all distances less than 15 feet.
Putts by Distance
.Johnson is number one in the world for a reason. He is a well-rounded player who does everything well. When he is on his “A game”, there is not another player that can touch him and he seems to be finding that “A game” much more often as he matures on the course. Looking at his Strokes Gained Stacked performance from V1 Game, Johnson gained strokes in every category for the week. In fact, other than Putting in Round 2 and Short Game in round 4, he gained strokes in every category for every round. Impressive.
If you stuck around to watch the post-round interview with Johnson and Amanda Balionis, you got some insight behind the nonchalant front DJ has long portrayed. For all his emotionless plodding on the golf course, the guy cares. He wants to win and he works extremely hard. His ability to segment on-course emotion and play one shot at a time is absolutely incredible when you see how much it matters to him in the end.
For the average golfer, playing like Johnson is just not attainable, but channeling his ability to focus on the shot at hand, however, is. Additionally, he has put in a tremendous amount of work in the past several years to improve his wedge game and putting, turning him into a world class player. If you want to measure your own improvement and get your game as well rounded as Johnson, V1 Game can help. Download the app today and take advantage of our Black Friday sale for 50% off.