AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) – Austin Johnson, the caddie of Masters champion Dustin Johnson, was proud of his older brother’s mental toughness in the final round at Augusta National on Sunday.
“He was focused. He had his mind set on what he wanted to do,” Austin told a small group of reporters before 2019 champion Tiger Woods helped Dustin into his Green Jacket in a low key ceremony.
“It was nerve-racking for me.”
The easy-going golfer fulfilled a childhood ambition with his Masters triumph and did so in style — posting an Augusta National record total of 20-under-par 268.
“This is one we always dreamed about, growing up down the road,” said the caddie, who spent his childhood in Columbia, South Carolina, about an hour’s drive from Augusta.
“I remember being out on a putting green with Dustin late at night and every putt was to win the Masters.
“I couldn’t be more excited for him. I see how hard he works. And how close he’s come to winning some majors. Having four 54-hole leads and not converting any of them, this is a big weight off him.”
Dustin Johnson has also had other bitter disappointments in major championships but rather than vent his frustrations he has tried to cope by learning from them.
Asked how the world number one behaved on the eve of Sunday’s final round while holding another 54-hold lead, Austin said: “He’s always pretty much the same D.J.
“Laid back, pretty calm. You can’t tell if we’re coming down the stretch of a major or if we are laying on the couch watching football.”
But don’t think the competitive fire doesn’t burn in him.
“He doesn’t throw clubs or curse at me, but that’s because he’s a class act. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. He’s a Southern guy, laid back. We talk a little slow and people think we don’t care,” said Austin.
“Those losses definitely hurt. But I think we learned from them. I think we’ve matured and grown as a team and learned from our mistakes, from not converting the leads.
“He’s playing great golf right now.”
The new champion saw his overnight lead cut from four shots to one after the first five holes but a birdie at the par-three sixth put him back on track and the two-time major winner said he stopped looking at the scoreboard after the seventh hole.
“I looked at the scoreboard the whole time,” said Austin, three years younger than his 36-year-old brother. “When we walked up toward the 18th green he asked me where we stood. I told him he had a five-shot lead.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Toby Davis)