"The more you play that golf course, the more you figure it out," Johnson says. "I feel very comfortable there. I like all the tee shots. You can swing the driver and feel freed up. I like the greens. I like all the shots around the greens."
But the fundamental question remains whether Johnson can keep his wits about him in the crucible of a major-championship Sunday. At last year's U.S. Open finale he played with such breakneck haste that Harmon later made him watch a replay to stress the need to maintain a more thoughtful pace. Lost in the furor of the PGA penalty was the fact that Johnson arrived at the 72nd hole with a one-stroke lead but whipsawed his drive miles wide of the fairway, missed his approach on the short side and then couldn't convert what he thought was a do-or-die seven-footer.
Johnson says he has learned his lessons. "I was in contention so many times last year I've come to understand what my body does in those situations. I've learned to control it. I simply have to relax, to move very slowly—or what I think is slow. Just take my time and almost enjoy the moment."
Though Johnson didn't win this year at San Diego or Doral, his coach still saw progress in the near misses. "He's making very good decisions," Harmon says. "He's controlling his ball much better. He's controlling his emotions too."
There is other evidence of Johnson's maturation, and not just his recent enrollment in correspondence classes to finish his college degree or the creation of an eponymous charitable foundation to support junior golf. After the tongue-lashing from Harmon, Johnson summoned his trainer to Florida for some grueling workouts. (He does leg presses of up to 550 pounds and bench-presses 185 pounds in sets of 15.) "He's had a big-boy breakthrough," says Myers. "He's focused and working hard." The move to Jupiter will only help. Myers spent 13 years at nearby PGA National and has aides to keep Johnson motivated. Harmon is building a teaching academy at the Floridian Golf Club, which has already extended Johnson a membership. (He's also planning to play out of the Medalist Golf Club, which is Tiger Woods's new home course, and the Bear's Club, both Tour hotbeds.) "We're going to be able to keep a better eye on him," says Harmon.
On the home front Johnson seems to have again settled into a quiet domesticity with Caulder. While he was playing in L.A. and Tucson, she almost single-handedly moved them into their 7,860-square-foot dream house, which includes a home theater Johnson is equipping with three large TVs, to better monitor various sporting events. "I wanted everything to be settled for him when he got back home," Caulder said in early March, while hanging out with Max in the vast stone-and-tile kitchen. Johnson had always dreamed of living on the water, and he's already fond of hitting balls from the deck of his swimming pool into the wide Loxahatchee River. He's in the process of purchasing two boats for his backyard dock: a 38-footer for fishing and a smaller, faster craft for wakeboarding. (On terra firma his vehicle of choice is a drop-top 1974 Pontiac Grand Ville, riding on 22-inch rims.)
"If the sun is out, I'll be on the water every day, just chilling," he says.
In 1992 Fred Couples won the Masters to get to No. 1, only to be overwhelmed by the hassle of it all. He never dared to fly so high again. Johnson is such a similarly mellow dude that it's natural to wonder if he's ready for all the hoopla that would come with a green jacket. The answer may have come back in Myrtle Beach, when he was blasting down the Intracoastal at the helm of a buddy's boat. Over the roar of the engines—and thumping hip-hop—someone asked how fast the boat was going.
"Not very," Johnson said.
Only 60 mph.