I WAS watching something over the weekend about the impact of Artificial Intelligence and how it will be able to outperform human beings at just about every conceivable task in the future.

“What a load of cobblers,” I sneered to myself before trying to flick over to the golf on the tele by pawing witlessly at the buttons of the cordless telephone amid farcical scenes of doddering, crotchety nincompoopery. Artificial Intelligence? It is becoming increasingly apparent that I’m an expert in Authentic Incompetence. Well, that’s what the sports editor said as he read through the opening gambit to this post-Masters column …

DJ plays it cool with masterclass

There have been many times down the seasons when Dustin Johnson’s inscrutable countenance would make the face of a mannequin dummy look as rubbery and demonstrative as Les Dawson pulling a gurn.

That his Masters canter prompted an outpouring of emotion from the world No.1 showed this hitherto unflinching gunslinger in a fresh light. This was a Masters unlike any other for these strange times; a stripped-back autumnal showpiece of soft greens that were as accommodating as a homely B&B, two-tee starts and an absence of hair-raising roars that can crank up the pressure.

But, as always in golf, it still required great technique, temperament, execution and all round excellence to prevail. Johnson had those attributes in shovel loads.

For all the pre-event talk of Bryson DeChambeau potentially doing this, that and the other to Augusta, the golfing scientist was no match for this well-oiled, fine-tuned clump of golfing engineering who played to percentages not pipe dreams.

Now that Johnson has finally added a second major to his CV, eager observers are already asking ‘right, how many more?’ as they look for someone to exert the kind of tyrannical rule on the majors that Tiger Woods used to.

We’ve been here before, of course, in this constant cycle of coronations and anointments. Rory McIlroy was lumped with the tag of ‘the next Tiger’ when he won four majors in three years. So too was Jordan Spieth when he landed a triple crown in the space of two years. And Brooks Koepka’s quartet of majors between 2017 and 2019 had him carrying the baton for a spell.

The magnitude of Woods’ accomplishments continues to dwarf all that those coming up behind him have achieved but, at a time of great strength in depth and relative parity in the game’s upper echelons, it’s important to enjoy the present and savour watching the likes of Johnson writing their own success stories instead of obsessing about them re-writing Tiger’s tale. Johnson, at last, has a new chapter.

Major moments continue to elude Rory

Trying to fathom out Rory McIlroy in the majors these days is akin to guessing that conundrum at the end of an episode of Countdown. Please buzz in if you have an answer.

After another ruinous opening round was followed by a freewheeling salvage operation, the increasingly arduous slog on the career grand slam ended with the usual sigh of what-might-have-been. Since 2015, the year after he won the last of his four majors, McIlroy is a combined 28-over in the first round of golf’s marquee events and 61-under for rounds two, three and four. It’s a fascinating statistic.

At just 31, time is very much on his side but with each passing major, the burden gets heftier it seems.

Nick Faldo won his first major – the 1987 Open – the day after he turned 30. He would go on to add another five in the next nine years. The great Seve, meanwhile, had four majors before he was 30 and added another at 31. There would be no more after that, though, and his career would never reach the swashbuckling heights again.

McIlroy left his 20s in an exalted position occupied by the very best. Upon hitting 30, he stated that the next 10 years could be even better. Is his best yet to come? Or is he past his best? In this fickle game, it’s probably best just not to predict anything.

Langer thrives in game for all ages

In this wonderful generation game, the sight of 63-year-old Bernhard Langer – average drive 250 yards – playing with 27-year-old Bryson DeChambeau – average drive 325 yards – in the last round and beating him by a couple of shots was a joy to behold.

Langer’s longevity remains remarkable. Yet the can of worms that was opened in the wake of the ban on the anchored method of putting back in 2016 continues to lead to accusations that he is still anchoring.

Watching him execute a stroke, with the handle of his long putter right next to his chest, just about requires a CT scan to ascertain whether in fact it is actually anchored or not.

It’s a tricky one but that is the ambiguity of the rule and one that continues to produce more grey areas than that 50 Shades cinematic romp.

Trust in the player is at the very heart of golf. A noble, diligent man, Langer has always maintained he is doing nothing wrong. Some would disagree, though.