Georgia on His Mind Johnson Wins ATT

By Associated PressMay 20, 2007, 4:00 pm
AT&T ClassicDULUTH, Ga. -- Zach Johnson is two-thirds of the way to the Georgia Slam.
 
OK, no such achievement exists, but anything seems possible for the Masters champion in the Peach State.
 
'Yeah, I'm not sure what it is,' he said. 'You know, for whatever reason, I've had success here.'
 
Zach Johnson
Zach Johnson reacts to his second career AT&T Classic victory. (WireImage)
Johnson won the AT&T Classic on Sunday, beating Ryuji Imada with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff.
 
Johnson, also the 2004 winner, closed with a 5-under 67 to match Imada (70) at 15-under 273 on the TPC Sugarloaf.
 
In the playoff on the par-5 18th, Johnson hit his second shot above the pin, then rolled a 60-footer for eagle within 5 inches of the hole. He now had his third PGA TOUR victory, each of them coming in Georgia.
 
Imada could only offer a congratulatory handshake. His tee shot landed in the left-side rough and his 3-wood failed to clear the water in front of the green.
 
Laying up was not an option, Imada thought, because with Johnson in the middle of the fairway, there seemed little chance his opponent would make par.
 
'I don't want to second-guess myself,' Imada said. 'If I laid up, it was going to be a tough shot regardless. The green on 18, front left, is pretty hard. I mean having a 15-footer for birdie, you know, your chances are not good.'
 
Seeking to become just the third player from Japan to win on the PGA TOUR, Imada lost a critical stroke with a drop that all but ified his next approach, which landed 13 feet from the pin.
 
For Johnson, scoring conditions the last four days were nothing like those at Augusta National, which endured bitterly cold wind in April when Johnson matched the highest score in Masters history at 1-over 289.
 
The AT&T, a suburban Atlanta event that moved from the week before the Masters to the warmer temperatures of May, offered a favorite venue for Johnson, the runner-up to Phil Mickelson last year.
 
Matt Kuchar (70), Camilo Villegas (71) and Troy Matteson (73) tied for third at 12 under, and Chris Tidland (68), Stephen Marino (70) and Bob Estes (70) followed at 11 under.
 
Mickelson, a week after winning THE PLAYERS Championship, skipped the tournament. Tiger Woods and many of the world's other top golfers did the same.
 
'This field was great,' Johnson said. 'It didn't have so-called marquee players that everybody knows or the media attaches to, (but) everybody that teed it up this week, for the most part ... is going to be in the top 50, top 30, top 15 players in the world.'
 
Imada, who began the day with a three-shot lead over Johnson, held his composure after two-putting from 7 feet for par at No. 17. Rather than dwell on disappointment, Imada drove the middle of the fairway before his approach shot flew the green and landed right on top of a sprinkler head 35 yards behind the pin.
 
The former University of Georgia standout showed some resolve, chipping within 3 feet and tapping in for a birdie that forced a first career playoff for both players.
 
Villegas, who began the day two strokes behind and in third place, was 13 under after an eagle at the sixth hole and a birdie at the seventh. He struggled with his driver, though, missing four of eight fairways through No. 10 and finishing just 33-for-56 for the tournament.
 
Johnson had just four bogeys in the tournament, none on the back nine. The Iowa native picked a perfect time for his first birdie at the par-4 15th hole, rolling in a 14-footer that tied Imada.
 
Since missing the cut at last year's PGA Championship, Johnson has four top-10 finishes and two others in the top 25 while earning money in 11 of 12 events. He withdrew from his second tournament, the FBR Open in Scottsdale, Ariz., because of a wrist injury.
 
After rolling in a 42-foot putt for a birdie on No. 1, Johnson made three straight birdies to move within one shot of the leaders at the 10th. He stayed 13 under before a birdie at No. 15 forced a two-way tie.
 
Imada began the day having played the back nine at 10 under, had a two-shot lead with a birdie at No. 12. He missed the green at 14, however, and two-putted for a bogey that dropped him into a tie Johnson.
 
The only Japanese players to win on the PGA TOUR are Shigeki Maruyama, who won three times from 2001-03, and Isao Aoki, in 1983.
 
Matteson, who began the final round paired with Imada, had a two-shot lead after he birdied the second and third holes. Following with consecutive bogeys a three-putt at No. 10 essentially ended his chances.
 
'All day I was either trying to lag it or whack it,' Matteson said. 'I couldn't get in any putting rhythm.'
 
Johnson has every reason to make plans to Atlanta in September, when East Lake Golf Club hosts the TOUR Championship, but he doesn't want to discuss it with the Memorial in two weeks and U.S. Open looming in mid-June.
 
'I'm not a firm believer in expectations,' Johnson said. 'I think (if) you get caught up in expecting to do this or that, things go astray. Paramount is the fact that it doesn't matter where you play.'
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - AT&T Classic
  • Full Coverage - AT&T Classic
  • Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

    Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

    “I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

    As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

    With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

    That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

    That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

    And that’s a magic word in golf.

    There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

    Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

    The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

    Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


    A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

    The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

    Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

    For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

    The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

    The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

    It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

    “The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

    And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

    “It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

    The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

    Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

    Parity was the story this year.

    Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

    The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

    The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

    “I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

    If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

    Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

    There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

    This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

    Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

    She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

    The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.

    Love's hip surgery a success; eyes Florida swing return

    By Rex HoggardNovember 22, 2017, 3:31 pm

    Within hours of having hip replacement surgery on Tuesday Davis Love III was back doing what he does best – keeping busy.

    “I’ve been up and walking, cheated in the night and stood up by the bed, but I’m cruising around my room,” he laughed early Wednesday from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala., where he underwent surgery to replace his left hip. “[Dr. James Flanagan, who performed the surgery] wants me up. They don’t want me sitting for more than an hour.”

    Love, 53, planned to begin more intensive therapy and rehabilitation on Wednesday and is scheduled to be released from the hospital later this afternoon.

    According to Love’s doctors, there were no complications during the surgery and his recovery time is estimated around three to four months.

    Love, who was initially hesitant to have the surgery, said he can start putting almost immediately and should be able to start hitting wedges in a few weeks.

    Dr. Tom Boers – a physical therapist at the Hughston Orthopedic Clinic in Columbus, Ga., who has treated Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and Brad Faxon – will oversee Love’s recovery and ultimately decide when he’s ready to resume normal golf activity.

    “He understands motion and gait and swing speeds that people really don’t understand. He’s had all of us in there studying us,” Love said. “So we’ll see him in a couple of weeks and slowly get into the swing part of it.”

    Although Love said he plans to temper his expectations for this most recent recovery, his goal is to be ready to play by the Florida swing next March.

    Vegas lists Woods at 20-1 to win a major in 2018

    By Will GrayNovember 22, 2017, 12:53 pm

    He hasn't hit a competitive shot in nearly a year, but that hasn't stopped one Las Vegas outlet from listing Tiger Woods among the favorites to win a major in 2018.

    The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook published betting odds this week on dozens of players to win any of the four majors next year. Leading the pack were Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth at 3/2, with Rory McIlroy next. But not far behind was Woods, who has been sidelined since February because of a back injury but was listed at 20/1.

    Woods will make his much-anticipated return next week at the Hero World Challenge, and next month he will turn 42. Next summer will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major championship victory, a sudden-death playoff win over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open.

    Here's a look at the odds for several marquee players on winning any of the four biggest events in golf next year:

    3/2: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth

    5/2: Rory McIlroy

    7/2: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day

    9/2: Justin Rose

    5/1: Brooks Koepka

    15/2: Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey

    10/1: Adam Scott

    12/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Marc Leishman, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed

    15/1: Daniel Berger, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Patrick Cantlay, Branden Grace, Kevin Kisner, Alex Noren, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson

    20/1: Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Tony Finau, Martin Kaymer

    25/1: Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Chappell, Bryson DeChambeau, Bill Haas, Jason Dufner, Charley Hoffman

    30/1: Pat Perez, Gary Woodland, Bernd Wiesberger, Brian Harman, Padraig Harrington, Emiliano Grillo, Ross Fisher, Si Woo Kim, J.B. Holmes