Though Dustin Johnson fell short of the high expectations he carried into the 75th Masters, four rounds at Augusta National Golf Club is seldom a bad thing.
If nothing else, it's another learning experience for future successes.
The Coastal Carolina alumnus and former Myrtle Beach resident closed with a 2-over-par 74 Sunday to tie for 38th at 1-over 289.
"The more times you can play here the more you're going to learn, especially playing here on the weekend, seeing the flags and kind of what putts do," Johnson said. "It definitely helps."
Johnson has now tied for 30th, 38th and 38th in his three Masters appearances, and he earned nearly $40,000 of an $8 million purse Sunday.
He birdied the seventh and 15th holes, bogeyed the 11th and triple-bogeyed the par-5 13th in humidity and heat that approached 90 degrees.
"I had trouble with the club slipping all day," Johnson said. "It was so hot and sweaty I was struggling. And being so far back I wasn't paying too much attention to it, and I had a couple drivers slip. That's all it was. Overall I thought I played pretty good today."
Johnson is taking two weeks off from competition, then will fly to Korea for the first time to play the Ballantine's Championship. He'll return to play the very next week in the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C., and the following week in The Players Championship at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Fla.
"They invited me to come play [in Korea] and it fit in the schedule," said Johnson, who is undoubtedly receiving an appearance fee in Korea. "I'm excited."
Johnson said he didn't consider playing in next week's Heritage tournament in Hilton Head Island, where he hasn't played since missing the cut in both 2008 and 2009.
As the world turns
You have to figure the worldwide audience for the final round was at an all-time high considering the diversity on the leaderboard. Amazingly, six continents are represented in the top eight finishers. That speaks to the extent golf has become global.
Among the top nine players, winner Charl Schwartzel is from Africa; Luke Donald is from Europe; Angel Cabrera is from South America; Bo Van Pelt and Tiger Woods are from North America; Adam Scott, Jason Day and Geoff Ogilvy are from Australia; and K.J. Choi is from Asia.
For the first time since 1994, the U.S. doesn't have a grip on a single major championship, as Germany's Martin Kaymer, Ireland's Graeme McDowell, and South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen and Schwartzel hold the four major titles.
"The world is big," Schwartzel said. "America is big but the world is bigger. ... There's just a bunch of good players out there from the European Tour and even Asia."
Back to reality
The Masters provided a nice distraction for 19-year-old Hideki Matsuyama, and he takes the Silver Cup as the low amateur back with him to Japan.
Matsuyama is a student at Tohoku Fukushi University in Sendai, Japan, which is in the area that suffered devastating damage from an earthquake and tsunami last month. He was training in Australia at the time of the disaster and found his dorm in shambles and food scarce upon his return.
Matsuyama shot rounds of 72, 73, 68 and 74 to tie for 27th at 1-under 287.
"In the midst of the earthquake, I was very happy that I was able to come over here and play," Matsuyama said through an interpreter. "I wasn't sure whether I will be able to encourage the people in Japan by my play. But at least I really wanted to enjoy this experience. ... This is one of the best things I can do to cope with the situation."
He is the first amateur from Japan to play in the Masters and qualified by winning the Asian Amateur Championship. Augusta National officials and the officials of other world golf organizations created the event a couple years ago as a Masters qualifier. Matsuyama plans to return to school today.
Johnson focused on play
Dustin Johnson is happy to have headlines back on his golf game, and he hopes to keep them off his off-course activities.
Johnson has gotten past a newsworthy start to the 2011 season that even gained the attention of tabloids. In the season-opening event in January, he was linked romantically to LPGA star and model Natalie Gulbis. She said they were dating and Johnson later said they were only friends.
At the Northern Trust Open in February Johnson got the wrong tee time from caddie Bobby Brown, drew a two-shot penalty for being late to the tee and was less than a minute away from a disqualification. A heated discussion after the round between Brown and Golf Channel reporter Jim Gray, who asked Johnson about the late tee time on a tee box during the round, led to Gray being taken off the remaining broadcasts that week.
In March, his two-year-old charge of driving under the influence was pleaded down to reckless driving, and a dashcam video of his field sobriety test was released by the S.C. Highway Patrol and surfaced on the Internet.
Johnson's life seems like it has returned to normalcy. He has reunited with his longtime girlfriend from Coastal Carolina, Amanda Caulder. She was with him at Augusta National and lives with him at his new home in Jupiter, Fla. So the focus is back on the course.
"I definitely don't like anything in the personal life to be in the tabloids, but things happen," Johnson said. "All of my focus is always on golf."
Changing body of golf
The rise of younger players on tour has coincided with players becoming larger and more athletic. Woods used to be considered one of the best athletes to ever play the game.
But he said his off-course athletic skills can't compare to those of some members of the new breed, including Johnson and Gary Woodland, whom he played with in the first two rounds of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill last month. Woodland played college basketball before transferring to Kansas to play golf.
"These are guys who have played other sports," said Woods, who admitted he could dunk a tennis ball in a basketball hoop but not a basketball. "These guys are both really good basketball players and they both have been able to dunk, and they both have been able to play hoop. And then they decide to play golf instead. So it's neat to see these guys transform into our sport, the power, the transition; they are doing things no one has ever seen on tour before."