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Underestimate Dustin Johnson at your own peril

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USA TODAY Sports’ Steve DiMeglio breaks down the top headlines to watch for at the 2017 Masters.
USA TODAY Sports

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Dustin Johnson is underestimated.

A funny thing to say for the No. 1 player in the world, who arrives at the Masters as a favorite after winning his last three events. But it’s true.

For a long time, the perception of Johnson was that he was little more than a bomber, his game depending heavily on his physical ability and not so much the mental side of it. Put him on courses where length carried the day, and you’d find him near the top of the leaderboard. But if his short game came into play, or his putting, he’d inevitably fade.

Over the last year, however, Johnson has flipped that script. And his newfound ability to think his way around a golf course might be the biggest revelation at Augusta National this year.

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“He’s very underrated in that department. There is a cerebral element to what Dustin Johnson does,” Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee said last week during a teleconference to preview the Masters.

“I think there’s an ability for him to take a look at the lay of the land and immediately imagine the shot that’s required to fit whatever hole location, and then be able to make the changes in his golf swing just immediately to sort of fit the lay of the land,” Chamblee continued. “And that’s an athletic genius that is really underrated.

“He may not be able to articulate that to the degree that everybody wants him to, but I think athletically, he’s got a gift.”

That Johnson was physically gifted was never…

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