AUGUSTA, Ga. — As Dustin Johnson made his way to the locker room at Augusta National on Tuesday, he was stopped by two patrons with clubhouse badges.
“Hey, Dustin, how about a photo with a couple of Dutch Fork boys?” one of them asked.
Johnson complied with a quick photo, and the fan gave him some encouragement.
“Go win it,” he said.
Johnson will be among the favorites when the 78th Masters begins Thursday. He grew up in Irmo, S.C., just outside Columbia, and attended Dutch Fork High School, so he will have a strong fan base this week at Augusta National.
With his length off the tee, success would seem to come naturally for Johnson at the Masters. But last year’s tie for 13th was his best showing in four appearances.
His lack of success at Augusta National hasn’t diminished his enthusiasm for the year’s first major.
“For a golfer, there’s no better place,” he said. “I grew up right down the road, so it’s my favorite place to come every year. I love it, just being here on the grounds is cool. I’m always excited to come here.”
Johnson will get to share some of that excitement with his brother. Austin Johnson has been his caddie since the fall, and the two seem to be getting along fine.
“He’s just starting out, so he’s not giving me any advice, really,” Dustin Johnson said. “It helps me go through the process. I double-check all the yardages, I’m pulling my own clubs. It helps me think a little bit better.”
What if Johnson has a poor round?
“He’s on the bag,” he said. “If we don’t play good, it’s not his fault. I don’t care what he does. As long as he carries the bag and keeps up with me, we’ll be all right.”
Austin Johnson caddied for his brother in his victory in the WGC-HSBC Champions in November. They’ve combined for two runner-up finishes since then.
Last week’s withdrawal from the Houston Open after an opening-round 80 has been Johnson’s only blemish this season, and he said he is healthy and ready to go.
“It wasn’t an injury,” he said about his stiff back at Houston. “I was working out hard last week, and it tightened up on me a little bit.”
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