A month after having to self-isolate in a Las Vegas hotel room, Dustin Johnson distanced himself from his rivals to win his second major title in record fashion in the 84th Masters.
Johnson now has lifetime access to the infinitely preferable Champions Locker Room at Augusta National after surviving a shaky start to ease to a five-shot victory over Australia’s Cameron Smith and South Korea’s Sungjae Im.
The world number one, who tested positive for Covid-19 in October, carded a closing 68 to finish an incredible 20 under par, surpassing the tournament record of 18 under set by Tiger Woods in 1997 and matched by Jordan Spieth in 2015.
Smith and Im’s totals of 15 under par are the best by a runner-up in tournament history and Smith also became the first player to break 70 in all four rounds, but Johnson was a class apart and now has two wins, three runners-up finishes, a third and a sixth in his last seven starts.
Johnson was aiming to be the first world number one to win the Masters since Woods in 2002, but had been 0-4 when leading or sharing the lead after 54 holes in a major championship.
The 36-year-old took a three-shot lead into the final round of the US Open at Pebble Beach in 2010 but collapsed to a closing 82, while five years later he three-putted from 12 feet on the 72nd hole at Chambers Bay to finish a shot behind Jordan Spieth.
Johnson finally secured his first major title in the 2016 US Open at Oakmont, but he fell from tied first to eighth at Shinnecock Hills two years later and failed to convert a one-shot lead in the US PGA Championship in August.
Another painful failure looked a worrying possibility as Johnson saw his four-shot overnight advantage reduced to a single stroke when he played the first five holes in one over as Smith and Im picked up two early birdies.
Johnson produced a brilliant response with a birdie on the par-three sixth and, with Im making a bogey, the lead was briefly back to three until Smith conjured an amazing birdie from the trees on the seventh.
Smith was unable to pick up a shot on the par-five eighth but produced another incredible recovery shot from the pine straw on the ninth that took a fortunate bounce and rolled down to four feet to set up a birdie.
Johnson had birdied the eighth moments earlier to give himself a two-shot lead heading towards the back nine and was given some welcome breathing space when Smith dropped a shot on the difficult 11th.
With mud on his ball in the 13th fairway, Johnson wisely opted against going for the green in two on the par five but calmly hit his third shot to 12 feet and holed the birdie putt.
Johnson was not finished yet and further birdies on the 14th and 15th made him the first player in tournament history to reach 20 under par.
Away from the battle for the title, defending champion Tiger Woods suffered a nightmare on the par-three 12th, hitting three balls into the water and eventually two-putting for a 10, the highest score of his entire career.
However, the 15-time major responded in incredible fashion with five birdies in the last six holes to restore some pride and complete a closing 76.