(Reuters) – While 2020 was an annus horribilis for most people, Dustin Johnson was very rare.
In the year COVID-19 brought the world to its knees, the American regained his place as a top golfer, slipped off his own brush with the virus, and won the Masters re- organized in a stunning style.
The pandemic completed the golf calendar, with dozens of events postponed, including the Open Championship, the oldest major in the sport, which has not been held for the first time since 1945.
The PGA Championship, won by Collin Morikawa in August, was the only major player played in the 2019-20 season. The Masters and US Open moved to the end of 2020 and made it part of the 2020-21 season, with the Ryder Cup also pushed to next year.
Johnson, who has established a place as one of the best of his generation, won the second major title in his career despite testing positive for the virus a month before it went away at Augusta National in November. .
He came out of a three-month hiatus of golf in brilliant form, winning the Passenger Championship when play began in June with fans banned. He also led the PGA Championship after 54 holes before settling for a run of second place.
Johnson regained world-class status after winning the Northern Trust Open, claimed his first FedEx Cup at East Lake in September, and was named PGA Tour Player of the Year for second tour.
But the 36-year-old saved his best for last, defeating the Masters by a total of 20-under-par 268 to set a record-breaking low score.
“I know 2020 was a very strange year, but it’s been good for me,” Johnson said. “As a child, you dream of wearing the green jacket.”
While Augusta gave Johnson the opportunity to fulfill his childhood dream, it proved a nightmare for Tiger Woods.
The hopes of the 15-time champion to defend the title he won to such fame last year came to an end when he hit 10 on the 12th par-three hole on the final day.
Woods also missed the cut at the U.S. Open in September and finished in competition for 37th place at the PGA Championship.
THE INDEPENDENT BULK
Johnson showed mental toughness in 2020, but Bryson DeChambeau took a different path to success, wearing a lock down in the gym and packing on about 30 pounds (14 kg) of muscle.
The hard work resulted in a powerful new swing that helped DeChambeau make his way to a six-shot victory at the U.S. Open for his major maiden title.
The 27-year-old’s brawny approach didn’t work so well at the Masters, however, where he finished well back in the pack despite arriving as their favorite.
Over lunch, Englishman Lee Westwood finished this year as a top European Tour golfer for the third time after winning the Race to Dubai.
Four of the five Women’s Professional Golf Association majors advanced, with the Evian Tournament postponed, and the women’s tour was crowned as a top champion for the first time by each of them.
Sophia Popov started the move by winning the British Open in August to become Germany ‘s first female top winner, before Mirim Lee of South Korea followed her up with a victory at the ANA Inspiration next month.
Kim Sei-young, Lee’s partner, won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in October and Kim A Lim, also from South Korea, drew an interesting victory coming from behind at the U.S. Women’s Open in December.
Golfers mourned several deaths in 2020, including 13-time main champion Mickey Wright (85), the only LPGA golfer to win all major titles at once, and Peter Alliss ( 89) former Ryder Cup player.
The sport also lost course designer Pete Dye (94) and 20-hour PGA Tour winner Doug Sanders (86).
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Edited by Toby Davis