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How Dustin Johnson’s COVID-19 case impacted his Masters preparation

Dustin Johnson didn’t get to tune-up for the 2020 Masters how he would’ve liked. COVID-19 made sure of that.

The world’s No. 1 ranked golfer tested positive for the coronavirus in October. It kept him from competing at the CJ Cup and the Zozo Championship, which is played on a Sherwood course where Johnson is a member. Johnson’s return to competition only came a week ago at the Houston Open, where he tied for second at 11 under. After finishing one shot back of Tiger Woods at the 2019 Masters, Johnson’s preparation for this year’s tournament had no choice but to be different.

“If I hit a couple good shots, I’ll be happy,” Johnson said before the Houston Open, according to the Associated Press. “It’s more about just getting some reps and playing and practicing and getting ready for next week. Obviously, I’ve had way more time off than I wanted coming into Augusta.”

MASTERS 2020: Masters COVID rules, explained

When did Dustin Johnson get COVID-19?

Johnson played at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, which concluded on Sept. 20 with Johnson tying for sixth. That was the last tournament he played in before testing positive. According to the PGA Tour, Johnson was experiencing symptoms on Oct. 10 and when they didn’t improve, he was tested on Oct. 12. That test returned as positive for COVID-19. 

“I had no idea where I got it from,” Johnson told the Associated Press. “I thought about it and tried to figure it out. I had every person that I had been around … every single one of them got tests. Not one person had it. The only thing I can figure is I got in Vegas. I don’t even know how I got it there.”

Johnson didn’t pick up a club for two weeks following his positive diagnosis, according to the AP, which added that Johnson’s initial workouts back with his clubs didn’t last very long as he recovered from the virus.

Johnson told the AP that he felt like he had a cold for a few days and had “a little fatigue.” He had already traveled to play in the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, so he was forced to isolate in his hotel room for more than a week following the positive test. 

“I didn’t leave the room for 11 days,” Johnson told the AP. “It was one of those things, too, I was like waiting to get sick because you know you have it, and you’re sitting there. But for me, it was mild and I’m very thankful for that.”

Because Johnson had the virus within the three months before the Masters, he’s not required to be tested ahead of the tournament at Augusta National, with the PGA Tour following the CDC’s guidelines on testing after positive tests. Johnson said he would’ve been “nervous for sure” if he had to wait on test results before heading to Augusta.  

Dustin Johnson history at the Masters

Prior to 2020, Johnson has competed in nine Masters. His tied-second finish in 2019 was his best finish at the event. Here’s the rundown, with the years ommitted being years that Johnson didn’t compete in the Masters at all.

  • 2009: T-30 (-1)
  • 2010: T-38 (+6)
  • 2011: T-38 (+1)
  • 2013: T-13 (-1)
  • 2014: Missed cut
  • 2015: T-6 (-9)
  • 2016: T-4 (-1)
  • 2018: T-10 (-7)
  • 2019: T-2 (-12)

Leading into the 2020 Masters, Johnson spoke with The Augusta Chronicle and said that it’s taken time for him to get used to playing at Augusta National Golf Club. 

“The more you play here, the kind of the more comfortable you get around this golf course you know what tee shots and where to hit it and the flags and kind of how to attack the golf course,” Johnson told The Augusta Chronicle. “So that plays a part in it. Then I think just me as a golfer getting better and kind of just all throughout the whole game, just having more confidence, hitting it better, driving it better, doing everything a little bit better always helps around here.”

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