AUGUSTA, Ga. -- In winning the 2020 Masters last November, Dustin Johnson became part of an exclusive club of golfers who have won majors at both Oakmont and Augusta National, joining Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Angel Cabrera, Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead. This spring, he can join an even more exclusive club: those who have gone back-to-back at the Masters.
There's only three who have ever accomplished the feat, and any sports fan will recognize their names: Jack Nicklaus (1965-66), Nick Faldo (1989-1990) and Tiger Woods (2001-02).
Johnson is not yet in this class of golfers in terms of his legacy, but his best stretches have been akin to some of the best periods of their careers. He opined on Tuesday about why there have been so few repeat winners.
"It's a tough tournament to win," said Johnson. "You're going to have to put four good rounds together, especially with the conditions, like normal conditions. You've got to do everything well. And with it firm and fast, it's just a really hard golf course because obviously any hole at any time can jump out and get you. It's just very tough ... to win once, and especially multiple times."
D.J. comes into the 2021 Masters as the favorite (9-1, per William Hill Sportsbook) to win a fairly open tournament, and while his putter has gone cold in recent months, there are still several reasons to believe he has the goods to run it back and put a jacket on himself on Sunday evening.
1. Form is strong (enough)
The tee-to-green game that has defined his 24 PGA Tour wins has not gone anywhere. Since February 1, D.J. is in the top 10 of players in this field in strokes gained tee to green. Though he did not get out of the pool play at the WGC-Dell Match Play event a few weeks ago and was mediocre at The Players Championship, his game is still there. It's not quite the heater he rode into last year's Masters, but he has a European Tour win this year as well as two other top-11 finishes in four stroke-play events.
2. Patience, patience, patience
He has two other things going for him as well. The course has been dialed up a bit this week, and D.J. is a caliber of shot-maker who thrives on grueling courses that require buckets of patience. He's also stacked up enough quality experience at Augusta National that, in a week where being wise may be more important than being long, he should thrive.
D.J.'s superpower is his forgetfulness. This has emerged in recent years as an absolute strength whereas it used to come across as a punch line. If this week is as nasty on the course as it portends to be, Rory McIlroy's assessment of the two-time major champion last November will absolutely affect the outcome of this tournament.
"I think he's got one of the best attitudes toward the game of golf in the history of the game," said McIlroy. "I don't know if I can compare him to anyone else, but the way he approaches the game is awesome."
3. Historical evidence
Johnson has beaten or tied 96% of the rest of the field in his last five appearances at the Masters. He's also playing in his 11th Masters at a place in Augusta National where experience seems to benefit players at a pretty high clip.
Of course, you have to beat them all to repeat, but his recent history and current form both suggest that this is at least on the table. Over the course of 72 holes at Augusta National, he has proven for five straight appearances that his game stands up better to this test than almost anyone. That could prove even more true on a course that's playing as fast as it has in eight years, according to Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley.
Nobody has any idea who's going to win this golf tournament. That's half the fun. But there are few things that seem like more of a certainty than D.J. contending at some point on the weekend. The setup going in should benefit both his skillset and his mental makeup and will mean that Johnson has one of the better chances in the last 10 years to win the biggest tournament in the world two times in a row.
Watch all four rounds of the 2021 Masters starting Thursday with Masters Live as we follow the best golfers in the world throughout Augusta National with Featured Groups, check in at the famed Amen Corner and see leaders round the turn on holes 15 & 16. Watch live on CBSSports.com, the CBS Sports App and Paramount+*