Dustin Johnson comes across as one of the most laid-back people on earth.
Little emotion is discernible in anything he says or does.
So he can be convincing when he casually says - as he did Tuesday - the Masters is "one of" his favorite golf tournaments, Augusta National Golf Club is one of his favorite courses, and the green jacket is one of the trophies he covets the most.
But those around him the most know better, and it is not "one of." There is only one.
"This is the biggest tournament by far. I think it's not even close," said Johnson's caddie of nearly three years, Bobby Brown. "No disrespect to the other tournaments, he tries to win every single week, but boy if there's ever one you want on the mantel this is definitely the one.
"He's geared up. We've talked about this tournament for a few years, and we're looking forward to having a big year here this year. It's the most important tournament on the planet."
Johnson attended the Masters while growing up in Columbia, but he said he turned down his initial opportunity to play the layout because he wanted his first round at the historic course to be as a competitor. That came two years ago in his second season on the PGA Tour following a standout career at Coastal Carolina University.
After eight tournament rounds at Augusta National in the past two years, Johnson, 26, seems to believe he's ready to be more than just another competitor this week as he takes a third shot at adding a green jacket to his wardrobe.
"I'm starting to play pretty good, and I feel my game is getting a lot better, so I'm definitely comfortable coming in here," Johnson said. "I know the course pretty well. I've played it a few times leading up to this week, and I feel I'm getting more comfortable on the greens, which is the key for me."
Johnson has visited Augusta National up to five times in the past few weeks. He also arrived Friday for a round and played nine holes Sunday before the traditional week of practice began Monday.
"It's a special place, so anytime you've got a chance to come up here and play you've got to take advantage of that," Johnson said. "The more rounds you get out here, the more putts you have, the more chances you get to see which way the ball is moving on the green the better you're going to get here."
He has even helped create a detailed greens diagram book, with the help of Brown and Steve Kling, a regular Augusta National caddie who works with Johnson during his non-tournament visits. Brown usually documents the pin locations himself and Johnson will glance at them now and again.
"That shows he's maturing on the golf course," Brown said. "There's some focus in him this week that I haven't seen. ... He's definitely gearing up. He's definitely fired up."
Johnson has tied for 30th and 38th in his first two Masters appearances, leading the field in driving distance in each of the past two years with averages of more than 300 yards per drive.
He has averaged 30 and 31.5 putts per round. The best Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods have averaged in their seven combined wins is 28.75 putts.
Johnson's short Masters career isn't without noteworthy accomplishment. He authored perhaps the greatest three-hole stretch in Masters history in the 2009 final round, joining Dan Pohl as the only players in 74 Masters tournaments to eagle back-to-back holes. He holed a 20-foot eagle putt on the par-5 13th, holed a 6-iron from 182 yards off pine straw on the par-4 14th for another eagle, and added a two-putt birdie on the par-5 15th to play the three holes 5-under par.
"The golf course sets up perfect for me," Johnson said. "I love the golf course."
Johnson has been made one of the favorites this week by many of his competitors as well as the mainstream golf media. He is the cover story of both Golf World and SI Golf Plus, and both stories proclaim he is ready for a major championship breakthrough. It's no accident the covers fall on Masters week. Golf World even proclaims him the best young American golfer since Woods.
Is he comfortable with the predictions? "We'll see on Thursday," Johnson said. "But the game is in good shape. Everything has to come together to put up a good week here."
Johnson has come close to victory in two of the past three major championships. He took a three-stroke lead into the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach but quickly unraveled and shot an 82. He appeared to make a playoff at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits before being informed after the 72nd hole he was being assessed a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a bunker off the 18th fairway.
"After the U.S. Open I kind of re-evaluated things, and obviously I was in the last group the last day at the PGA and played pretty well," Johnson said. "So I kind of know what to expect, I know what it takes to get there and I know what it takes to get it done, and I'm looking forward to getting another chance."
Johnson has three top-10s this year in eight starts, including a runner-up in the WGC-Cadillac Championship and a tie for third in the Farmers Insurance Open, but he also has five finishes outside the top 25, including two missed cuts.
"It's been a little more up and down than I'd like, but I think it's going in the right direction," Johnson said. "I'm starting to feel good. ... I'm starting to get a little more consistent, starting to play a little better day in and day out, so I've just got to get the putter going and we'll be in good shape."
The fact that Johnson considers a pair of top-three finishes and nearly $1.45 million earned through March a slow start speaks to his rising expectations. A green jacket isn't outside those anticipated achievements.
"That would mean a lot, especially growing up so close to here," Johnson said. "This has always been one of my favorite tournaments. It's special to hoist up any trophy but this one would be very special."
One of his favorite tournaments, indeed.