Dustin Johnson Returns To Augusta On Top Of The World

Dustin Johnson is the veteran, while William McGirt is a Masters rookie. One went to Coastal Carolina, the other to Wofford. Both will be in the field in Augusta

A lot has changed for Dustin Johnson since he last played in the Masters.

After a career-best tie for fourth in last year's trip around Augusta National, Johnson won the next major on the schedule - the U.S. Open.

Not only does Johnson return to Augusta with the confidence of having won a major, he is currently ranked number one in the World Golf Rankings. Throw in the fact that he's won his last three events and it's easy to see why the Dutch Fork and Coastal Carolina graduate has been installed as the favorite to win this week.

Johnson knows such talk is meaningless.

"Who knows what's going to happen, but I'm feeling good with the game," said Johnson.

"Got a lot of confidence, excited for the week."

Johnson's winning streak started at the Genesis Open just outside of Los Angeles. He followed that up with a pair of WGC wins - the Mexico Championship in Mexico City and the Dell Match Play in Austin, Texas. He pulled out of the Shell Houston Open early last week to concentrate on the first major of the season. 

"Just need to stick with what I'm doing and hopefully keep playing some good golf," Johnson said.

While Johnson is a veteran of the Augusta National Golf Club, Boiling Springs resident William McGirt is playing in his first Masters.

The native of Lumberton, North Carolina and Wofford graduate punched his ticket to Augusta by winning last year's Memorial Tournament, the event created by Jack Nicklaus.

"Just been a ton of fun just trying to take it all in and enjoy the moment," McGirt said.

"Very fortunate that the members have us here. Even more fortunate that they let us come in and play before the tournament. Just trying to enjoy it and have fun with it."

As far as his game plan for navigating his way around the historic venue, McGirt does not sound like a rookie about to tee it up for his first Masters. 

"Putting it always the key out here, McGirt said.

"The thing is if you don't put it in the right place on the green, it doesn't matter how well you're putting because you're going to have 12 or 15 feet for par. A lot of it is placement on your second shot and obviously your lag putting. Every caddie I've had here says if you can have only one or two putts for the week where you're dead facing the hole or the hole's dead behind you, you'll do okay."

Practice rounds continue on Thursday, but many golfers like McGirt came in last week for some early practice. 

The first round tees off Thursday morning.

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