By Simon Lewis, Irish Examiner at Augusta National
Another year and another season for Dustin Johnson to try and shake off the tag of best player yet to win a major.
Yet after several, well-documented near misses, rather than seeing that tag as a burden, the American is as positive as ever that he is on the verge of joining golf's elite.
“If your name's getting mentioned, best player, whether, you know, whatever comes after that, is usually pretty good,” Johnson said on Monday as he arrived at Augusta National for this week's Masters, the first major of 2016.
“I've got to say it's positive. You know, I still feel like my time's coming. I've just got to keep putting myself in position to have a chance to win. One of these days I will get it done.”
Johnson, 31, has flirted with victory in each of the three other majors only to blow his chance at crucial moments on the last day, most recently in last year's US Open at Chambers Bay when he led going to the last only to three-putt and hand Jordan Spieth the win.
“I don't look at any of them as scar tissue,” Johnson said. “I try to take every situation, good or bad, and just try to learn from them and use the experience that I had.
“You know, even like last year at the US Open, to me, that gives me a lot of confidence; if I'm in that situation on Sunday, I know I can get it done. I know I can hit the shots that I need to hit and put myself in position.”
Despite those near-misses, the Masters has not been a major he has contended in, last year's tie for sixth place, nine shots back of champion Spieth his best finish in six attempts.
“This is a golf course I think that a lot of things have got to go your way to have a chance to win on Sunday,” Johnson said.
“You've got to be doing everything well. It's tough. It's doesn't reward mediocre shots. You've got to hit all of them in the right spots, and when you do miss it, you have to make sure you miss it in the right spot. You can hit a great shot and it can go just a yard too far and you're not going to make par.
“So those kind of things, that's what makes this place very difficult. I think the more I play it, the more comfortable I get here, the more I know kind of where you have to hit it to certain flags.
“There's definitely a pin on every hole where there's just a place you can't miss it. So that's some things that I've just been learning over the last few years playing here.”
Johnson certainly has the early-season form to make him a serious contender at Augusta National. The world number eight has five top 10-finishes this season and arrived at the Masters from his best yet, a tie for third at the Shell Houston Open on Sunday.
“This year, I feel like I'm coming in with a pretty solid game. I feel like every part of my game is improving. I felt like I've got a lot of confidence in every part of my game right now, especially with my wedges.
“I've been working really hard on my wedges and I feel like that's improved a lot over the last six weeks. I can definitely see improvement in that. I think that's something that's going to help me around here.”