Golf

Johnson's Major confidence boost

Top-ranked Dustin Johnson enters Friday's 81st US Masters confident about his first Augusta National outing as a Major champion and a heavy favourite after three consecutive US PGA Tour triumphs.

The 32-year-old American, who grew up only an hour's drive from the famed layout, shook off a history of Major near-misses to win the US Open last June at Oakmont, changing his Magnolia Lane mindset.

"You definitely have a different mentality," Johnson said. "Now I'm not going into a Major trying to win my first one. I've got one. So it's definitely a nice feeling."

Johnson became world No. 1 with a February victory at Riviera and followed that with triumphs at the World Golf Championships Mexico and WGC Match Play events.

"I've got a lot of confidence now, confidence in my game and in myself," Johnson said.

"I just need to keep working hard, keep trying to get better."

The Masters will be Johnson's first Major atop the rankings, from which he takes motivation while trying to avoid complacency.

He said: "It's still just a ranking. I don't feel any different.

"Being No. 1, it kind of drives me to work harder and to get better. I still go in every week preparing the same that I always have."

Johnson struggled in his first five appearances but in 2015 became the first player in Masters history with three eagles in one round on his way to sharing sixth.

Last year, he birdied 13 and 15 on Sunday to pull within two of the lead before a double-bogey at 17 ended his chance to catch eventual winner Danny Willett of England.

Johnson said he likes the state of his game, particularly his trademark long drives, but expect him to be tested by some of the world's best players, including second-ranked Rory McIlroy, 2015 Masters winner Jordan Spieth and five-time Major champion Phil Mickelson. - AFP

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