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Defending Masters champion Dustin Johnson pins missed cut on his balky putter


AUGUSTA, Ga. — It was not a pretty end for the defending champion.

Dustin Johnson, so much in command of his game and Augusta National Golf Club five months ago, looked lost and perplexed Friday.

And his short reign was over after a short week: he missed the cut after a 75 that included only five pars.

Johnson finished at 5-over 149 and bogeyed three of his last four holes after coming to the 15th tee – a hole he has played at 17-under and birdied or eagled in more than half of his Masters rounds – with a clear path to playing on the weekend: make a birdie to get to 1-over for the tournament and find a way to play the last three holes at 1-over or better, and he would be playing.

His quest to have a chance, however remote, of being the first repeat winner at Augusta since Tiger Woods in 2001 and 2002 was literally doused when his second shot at No. 15 from the fairway, and only 159 yards out, landed on the front of the green and rolled back into the water.

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Johnson made only his fourth career bogey at the hole, then bogeyed the 17th on a three-putt from 69 feet and added another at the last when his drive went into the fairway bunker and his second shot was well short of the green.

His pitch went 12 feet past the hole, and he left the par attempt short.

Johnson missed only his second cut in 11 Masters starts, and his early week snapped a streak of five consecutive top-10 finishes. His opening round broke a streak of 11 sub-par rounds in a row at Augusta.

In a brief stop to comment to the media, he laid the blame on his putter, and he wasn’t wrong: Johnson has four three-putts in the second round, six for the tournament and said he never figured out the speed, leaving putts woefully short or banging them too far past the hole.

“Six three-putts in two rounds, you just can’t do that,” he said. “Obviously didn’t drive it great but drove it good enough, and I felt like I … never was really too bad out of position. Just the three-putts killed me. You take all the three-putts away, I’m 1-under. That was kind of the difference. My speed was awful.”

He said he didn’t feel any additional pressure as defending champion.

“Obviously I wanted to be around for the weekend,” he said. “I like this golf course. I feel like I play it very well. I just didn’t putt very good. It’s pretty simple.”

Johnson began the day with a trip to the trees on the left at No. 1, failed to clear them with his second shot (it glanced off another tree trunk) and he missed a 45-foot putt for par.

Although he failed to birdie No. 2 (he three-putted from 50 feet), Johnson fought back when he birdied No. 3 on a 12-foot putt and No. 4 on an 8-foot putt after perhaps his best iron shot of the day.

The two shots he gained were lost at No. 5 when he pushed his drive into the trees on the right and had shot with virtually no backswing. He barely reached the fairway, got on in three, then had another three-putt for double.

A bogey at No. 6 was followed by another brief rally.

Johnson birdied No. 8 after a creative pitch from behind the large mound on the left, hitting the ball past the hole and allowing the slope on the other side to bring it back within 6 feet.

He birdied No. 9 from the second cut on the right on a 15-foot putt and was even-par for the day and one shot under the cut line.

But it didn’t last. He bogeyed No. 10, missing from 6 feet after blasting out of the greenside bunker. His last birdie of the 2021 Masters came at No. 12, on a 5-foot putt, but a chance to give himself even more of a cushion was missed at No. 13 when hit his second shot over the green and flubbed his chip, settling for par.

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