Scheffler, DJ have final tuneup events leading into the Masters

Scottie Scheffler (left) and Dustin Johnson are in the pre-Masters spotlight. (Joy Sarver Photos)

Dustin Johnson and Scottie Scheffler don’t play on the same pro golf tour any more, but their play will be intertwined over the next three weeks.

Scheffler needed a week’s rest during the Florida Swing’s conclusion at the Valspar Championship last week, but – being a Texas native – he’s playing this week in the Texas Children’s Houston Open.

A champion in both the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship in Florida, he’ll be going for three wins in a row in Houston.  The last player to win three in a row? Johnson in 2017, but an asterisk is needed here.

One of DJ’s wins was in the World Golf Championship Match Play Championship. If Scheffler wins in Houston he’ll be the first to win three straight starts in stroke play since Rory McIlroy did it in 2014.

Johnson’s great run eight years ago led into the Masters. He was at the top of his game then but took a fall after arriving in Augusta  and withdrew the day before the tournament.  The freak episode still haunts him.

“I never felt unbeatable,’’ he said in an interview this week leading into the next LIV Golf League tournament April 5-7 at Doral in Miami, FL.  “But I always feel that, when I’m playing my best, no one can beat me.’’

He doesn’t look back at the injury at Augusta much,  but – when prodded — will say that without it “I’d have two green jackets instead of one. I had a fantastic prep that week.’’

Johnson won his Masters in 2020, when no spectators were allowed on the course because of pandemic concerns. Now, with golf’s first major championship  three weeks away and Scheffler playing so well, Masters talk can’t be avoided.

After the PGA Tour stop in Houston that circuit has the Valero Texas Open opposite the LIV event at Doral.  Johnson will be one of 13 LIV players in the field at Augusta National. Last year the fledgling circuit had a good showing, with Brooks Koepke and Phil Mickelson tying for second behind Jon Rahm. Rahm has since left the PGA Tour to join LIV.

“Miami’s going to be a great week,’’ said Johnson.  “There’ll be a lot of guys grinding, especially those going to the Masters.’’

Johnson was LIV’s most important early signing and the dominant player in 2022 — the circuit’s first season when only eight tournaments were held.  He was the circuit’s leading individual and his 4Aces won the team title.

He wasn’t as successful in 2023 and at the conclusion of  the 14-tournament second season he was second to Talor Gooch in LIV career money, Gooch having earned $46.4 million and Johnson $44.4 million.  And that’s on top of the reported $150 million signing bonus Johnson received to leave the PGA Tour.

This season Johnson has one win in four LIV starts but couldn’t crack the top 20 in the last two in Saudi Arabia and China. He’s third in the tour standings behind Joaquin Niemann and Rahm.

Even with LIV not playing this week Johnson has had an eventful week.  His 4Aces team got a new general manager with the hiring of Chris Rosaasen.

“I’ve known Chris for many years, witnessing how he has built multiple successful brands,’’ said Johnson, the 4Aces captain and part-owner.  “Chris’  vision for the team aligns perfectly with what we aim to achieve.’’

Johnson, meanwhile, is taking aim at winning another Masters and says Doral will be “good preparation.’’

“Doral’s a fantastic golf course. It’s fair and tough, and it’s long.  You have to use all the clubs in your bag,’’ said Johnson, who has won events at Doral on both the PGA and LIV tours.