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Vince Johnson: Checking in on Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson's day didn't turn out as planned

Posted: April 12, 2013 6:28 p.m.
Updated: April 12, 2013 6:28 p.m.

Dustin Johnson hits off the 13th fairway during the second round of the Masters on Friday in Augusta, Ga.

 

If Thursday was a birdie-fest, Friday struck Augusta National like an angry cat.

Pin locations and swirling winds took a bite out of the red numbers, or as one of my Twitter followers put it, Augusta National “brought the Payne (in reference to Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne).”

Even if you played shots perfectly, your ball might carom off the flagstick and into the water (See: Woods, Tiger).

But no one got bitten harder than Dustin Johnson.

The Columbia, S.C. native had everything going his way as he walked down the par-4 14th hole Friday.

Having just grabbed the outright Masters lead of 7-under at No. 13, I decided to check-in on Johnson’s star-studded following, which included hockey legend Wayne Gretzky and his daughter, Paulina, whom Johnson dates.

“Yeah, (Johnson leading The Masters) is pretty cool. I know his mom and dad are very proud,” Gretzky said on 14. “We’re just having fun being around him. It’s been fun so far. Hopefully, the next 40 or so holes are even more fun.”

Sorry about that, Great One.

Nearby, as mom’s sometimes do, Johnson’s mom gushed.

“He always told me he’d be here, and he’d be winning,” Kandee Johnson said. “If he’s leading on Sunday, I’ll just be crying the whole day — the whole time.”

Unfortunately, it looks like your Sunday tears are safe, Mrs. Johnson.

Starting shortly after my interaction with the Johnson/Gretzky clan, the wheels began to come off.

Johnson bogeyed 14. After laying up on the par-5 15th hole, he plopped a chip into the water, leading to a double bogey. Then, he played the final three holes par-bogey-double bogey, dropping six shots in total over the final five holes.

I hope I wasn’t the jinx.

“Besides the chunk in the water, they weren’t bad shots,” Fred Couples, who played with Johnson, said after Friday’s round. “You just make bogeys by missing the spot or three putting or not getting up-and-down. (Johnson’s) a guy who could win this, and he kind of stepped on himself. He’s going to have to burn it up tomorrow, but (bad things) can happen out here.”

I avoided eye-contact for the rest of the round with a guy whose autographed picture hung on my wall as a child.

Major tournament disappointment is nothing new to Johnson. He’s held late tournament leads in the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship, coming up short of the title on each occasion. This one, however, means more to Johnson.

“This is my favorite event to play,” Johnson said after Thursday’s round. “I only grew up an hour from (Augusta), so it’s always one that I look forward to playing. My friends and family get to come down and watch. It’s a lot of fun.”

Johnson declined speaking to the media Friday.

He sits at 1-under par and five shots behind leader Jason Day entering Saturday’s round.

Johnson did, however, walk away from Augusta National hand-in-hand with Paulina Gretzky.

Google it.

He’ll be just fine.

Follow Vince’s coverage from Augusta all week at signalscv.com/masters.

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