Defending champ Dustin Johnson admits golf game 'not quite as good' at Masters

Dustin Johnson hits off of the second tee during a practice round for the 2021 Masters Tournament on Monday in Augusta, Ga. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
1 of 3 | Dustin Johnson hits off of the second tee during a practice round for the 2021 Masters Tournament on Monday in Augusta, Ga. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

April 7 (UPI) -- Dustin Johnson, the defending champion of the Masters, says his game "isn't as good" as it was when he won the major championship about five months ago. Johnson is still favored to win this weekend in Augusta, Ga.

The No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking shot a Masters record 20-under par in November to beat the field by five strokes and win the Green Jacket. He will attempt to defend his title from Thursday through Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club.


"[My game] is in good shape, maybe not quite as good of shape as it was in in November, but I feel like it's coming together," Johnson told reporters Tuesday at a news conference.

The 2020 FedEx Cup champion won two events last season. He tied for sixth in the 2020 U.S. Open. Johnson then finished second in the Vivint Houston Open. He won the Masters a week later. Johnson hasn't finished better than 54th in his last three PGA Tour events.

The 2020 Masters was postponed to November from April due to the coronavirus pandemic. The change in the season meant different weather, different course conditions and an altered overall environment because of fans not being allowed to attend the event.


This year's event again features fans and spring conditions. Rain is expected Friday and Saturday in Augusta.

"You are going to need to do everything well this week," Johnson said. "The course is in fantastic condition. It was pretty firm Monday and Tuesday. Balls are bouncing a good bit, greens are rolling really nice. It's a lot different conditions than November. The golf course played really soft then because of the weather.

"As of right now, the course is going to play pretty difficult. But it's still the same. ... You have to hit quality golf shots and land them in the spots you want to. But with the course being firm and fast like it is, you definitely are going to have to be a little bit more careful about where you hit the ball."

Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods and six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus are the only golfers to ever win consecutive titles at Augusta. Woods last accomplished the feat in 2001 and 2002.

"It's a tough tournament to win," Johnson said. "You have to put four good rounds together. You have to do everything well. With it firm and fast, it's a really hard golf course.


"Any hole at any time can jump out and get you. It's really tough to win once, but especially multiple times."

Johnson tees off for the first round with Lee Westwood and Tyler Strafaci at 10:30 a.m. EDT Thursday.

Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed are among the other favorites to win the Green Jacket.

Moments from the 2021 Masters Tournament

Last year's Masters champion, Dustin Johnson (L), bumps fists with 2021 champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan after the final round of the 2021 Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., on Sunday. Matsuyama won his first major at10 under par. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

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