PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Dustin Johnson missed out on a chance to tackle Augusta National at the height of his powers, but he’s not far removed from getting another crack at it.
Johnson was the clear favorite heading into the 2017 Masters, having won each of his last three starts, including a pair of WGC events. But a slip down the stairs led to a withdrawal just before he was set to tee off in the opening round, and he didn’t play competitively again for a month.
Johnson has won plenty of tournaments in the two years since, and he’s spent much of that time as the top-ranked player in the world. But with victories already this year in Saudi Arabia and Mexico and coming off a T-5 finish at The Players Championship, Johnson believes heading into this week’s Valspar Championship that his game is as strong as it’s been since his ill-fated week in Augusta.
“Now is the closest I’ve been to that. I mean, back then that was probably the best form I’ve ever been in, and getting injured it’s taken a while to get back to that form,” Johnson said. “Obviously, I played very well in that stretch, but I wasn’t as comfortable as I was then, kind of throughout the whole bag. But it’s getting, it’s definitely the closest I’ve felt to that stage of my career.”
Johnson’s result last week was his first career top-10 finish in 11 trips to TPC Sawgrass, and his dominating run to the title last month in Mexico was reminiscent of the one he offered up two years ago during his strong run of form. When asked if he believed the performance he authored in Mexico City would be good enough to win his first green jacket next month, Johnson didn’t back down.
“Yes, it would be. I mean, I did everything really well,” he said. “I just played really solid tee to green and rolled the putter well. Yeah, definitely I would be tough to beat.”