The temptation to anoint Dustin Johnson as the winner of The Masters Tournament is understandable given his six-stroke lead entering the final round at Augusta, but both Johnson and the great Greg Norman would advise otherwise.
Norman suffered the greatest final-round collapse in Masters history in 1996, and Johnson has a much more recent horror story of his own that cost him nearly $1 million.
Dustin Johnson starts the fourth round up by four
Dustin Johnson is in an enviable position at the 2020 Masters heading into the fourth round of the season’s final major golf championship. Johnson shot a 7-under-par 65 in the third round to extend his lead to four strokes.
Johnson made five birdies and an eagle in his no-bogey round and starts Sunday’s final 18 four strokes ahead of Abraham Ancer, Sungjae Im, and Cameron Smith. Should he hang on, Johnson would earn the second major championship of his career to go along with the 2016 U.S. Open. He has posted three second-place finishes in majors since, including in April 2019 at the Masters.
Greg Norman had a memorable Masters collapses
Greg Norman wasn’t the first golfer to blow a six-stroke tournament lead after 54 holes, but he was the first to do so in one of the PGA Tour’s major championships.
Norman won a pair of British Opens in his distinguished career, but there could have been so much more hardware in his trophy case. He finished second in majors eight times, including three times in the Masters. His last runner-up finish at Augusta was his most bitter result there.
Norman entered the final round in 1996 six strokes ahead of the field thanks in large part to an opening-round 63 that tied the course record. However, his final round was an unmitigated disaster. Norman fired a 6-over-par 78 on Sunday and wound up five shots behind Nick Faldo, who closed with a 67.
Dustin Johnson blew a 6-shot lead in a 2017 tournament
Don’t expect Dustin Johnson to assume Sunday’s round at the Masters is going to be his victory tour. Johnson is the seventh and most recent competitor to blow a six-shot lead after 54 holes at golf’s highest level.
Playing the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, Johnson was unable to make a birdie in windy conditions and booked a final-round 77. It made for an even worse collapse than at the 2010 U.S. Open, when he took a lead into Sunday at Pebble Beach but posted a final-round 82.
Johnson bogeyed the first two holes but still held a three-shot advantage heading to the back nine. Bogeys at Nos. 15 and 16 flipped the leaderboard, and Johnson would finish two shots back of the winner. Justin Rose was the man benefitting from Johnson’s collapse. After starting the day eight strokes back, Rose shot a 5-under 67.
Johnson tied for second with Henrik Stenson and Brooks Koepka to take home a check for $679,667. Rose earned $1.66 million, meaning the huge reversal of fortune cost Johnson nearly $1 million.