Laid­back No.1 John­son takes Au­gusta ex­pec­ta­tions in his stride

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FINAL SAY - NICK RODGER

IT seems be­ing the world No.1 suits Dustin John­son down to an ab­so­lute tee. Since as­sum­ing this global po­si­tion of au­thor­ity, a lofty stature which can of­ten give some play­ers a dizzy­ing bout of ver­tigo, John­son has won two events on the spin.

His bat­tling vic­tory over the tena­cious, swash­buck­ling Spa­niard, John Rahm, in the WGC-Dell Match­play Cham­pi­onship on Sun­day was his third vic­tory in suc­ces­sion and strength­ened his place at the head of the world or­der. With the Masters just over a week away, many are al­ready vi­su­al­is­ing him eas­ing his arms into the sleeves of the Green Jacket.

It’s not hard to imag­ine, of course. John­son is rid­ing the crest of a wave at the mo­ment and is in one of those zones where even this most capri­cious of games seems easy. “Some days it does but about 95 per cent of the days it does not,” said the 32-year-old.

“When you’re rolling in putts, that’s when the game gets pretty easy.”

John­son will now go into a ma­jor cham­pi­onship as the world No 1 for the first time in his ca­reer. Pres­sure? What pres­sure? “How do I like it? I don’t care,” he said with his trade­mark shrug. “I mean, it’s still just a rank­ing. I don’t feel any dif­fer­ent. I still go in every week pre­par­ing the same that I al­ways have.”

The omi­nous sign for those play­ing catch-up is that John­son feels there is plenty left in the locker. “It’s im­pos­si­ble to win every week, I know that, but be­ing No 1, kind of drives me to work harder and to get bet­ter,” he added. “And I think I can get bet­ter with all as­pects of the game.”

Mean­while, Rory McIl­roy, the world No.2, has con­firmed that he won’t be play­ing in the Aberdeen As­set Man­age­ment Scot­tish Open at Dun­don­ald Links this sea­son.

The do­mes­tic show­piece is staged the week be­fore the Open Cham­pi­onship but McIl­roy will play in his own Ir­ish Open over the links of Port­stew­art the week be­fore the Scot­tish event and then 200 Ren­field Street, Glas­gow G2 3QB. email: [email protected]­herald.co.uk. Tel 0141 302 6590 Head of Sport: Ste­wart Weir head to Royal Birk­dale for the third ma­jor of the sea­son.

McIl­roy last played in the Scot­tish Open at Royal Aberdeen in 2014, and then won the Open the fol­low­ing week at Hoy­lake. His missed the 2015 Scot­tish Open at Gul­lane through in­jury which also saw him miss out on the de­fence of the Claret Jug at St An­drews. McIl­roy did not en­ter last year’s Scot­tish Open at Cas­tle Stu­art.

Ma­jor win­ners Adam Scott and Hen­rik Sten­son have al­ready con­firmed their at­ten­dance at Dun­don­ald.

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