Even more than a week out from play starting at the 2017 Masters, the question lingers: Can anyone beat Dustin Johnson at Augusta National?
Yes, Johnson’s record at the Masters isn’t perfect, as he’s posted just two top-10 finishes in seven starts. But those top 10s were a T-6 (2015) and T-4 (2016), as in top 10s in his last two tries. His form is the main thing, though, as Johnson has now won three events in a row.
With that background, who could be the greatest challenge to Johnson winning the green jacket this year?
Jordan Spieth might seem like the most common answer, considering his second-first-second record of the last three years.
But according to Padraig Harrington, it’s a different name that pops up: Rory McIlroy.
Shocker, we know. McIlroy is only a four-time major champion and the second-ranked golfer in the world (behind Johnson).
Harrington has also been a vocal supporter of McIlroy in the past. Before the Northern Irishman even won his first major, Harrington proclaimed that McIlroy could challenge Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors.
Still it’s worth noting Harrington’s words. The Irishman spoke with the Irish Independent about the upcoming Masters, calling McIlroy the second favorite and that if Johnson’s hot form continues at Augusta he’s almost unbeatable. Almost.
“Rory is the only one capable of beating (Johnson) at this very moment,” Harrington told the Independent.
Not that Harrington, a three-time major champion, is banking on McIlroy challenging. If McIlroy can win, he’ll complete the career grand slam. That’s certainly an added pressure, only heaping on the stress that is trying to track down Johnson on his A game.
“With the way DJ is playing, Rory is going to be under pressure to bring his ‘A’ game and that’s tough enough. There is such a high standard at the top,” Harrington said. “DJ doesn’t think very much, I don’t think DJ looks over his shoulder. I don’t think he worries at all. DJ is the most likely one to play his game next week and if he does turn up and perform, he’ll be the winner.”
We’ll see next week.