Johnson Proves Its Not All About Power

By Ian HutchinsonNovember 21, 2007, 5:00 pm
Brett Wetterich was asked last week about his name being attached to the two longest drives of the 2007 PGA TOUR season, monster shots of 437 and 435 yards, causing one listener to chuckle.
'I would like to know my stats as far as shortest drive,' said Zach Johnson, who was told that no research had been done on that particular number.
'Thank you. I appreciate that,' replied Johnson, whose driving distance averaged a not-so-impressive 280.4 yards this year, a number that left him 169th on TOUR in that category.
On the flip side, he hit 73.05% of fairways, which left him eighth among his peers, and his 69.91 scoring average was 16th-best. Johnson also averaged 28.71 putts per round, good for 22nd place, shattering the popular myth that power drives are the only important ingredient in a successful season.
When you record a 60 for the lowest round of the season at the TOUR Championship, it can be considered a successful year. When you finish seventh in FedExCup regular season points, it's a good season.
The most obvious sign, however, is when you can include the Masters as one of your two wins, the other being the AT&T Classic in May.
If bling's the thing, Johnson is surely unremarkable. In this age of rockets off the tee, he is a throwback to the days when fairways and greens got the job done.
That's the style that Johnson will take into this weekends LG Skins Game against Wetterich, the king of Skins Fred Couples and defending champ Stephen Ames at the new Celebrity Course at Indian Wells in California.
Johnson brought more than his grinding game to what would be the greatest moment of his career earlier this season. Perhaps it's because of his Iowa upbringing or his Christian faith, but Johnson is renowned for his remarkable attitude, a refreshing mix of humility and confidence.
Coming into Augusta in April, he had missed the cut in seven of 11 majors he had played in, including two years earlier at the Masters.
'My record certainly wasn't very good, to say the least. I guess the positive side of that was I'm about due to make the cut and do something well, so why not?' said Johnson, adding the course, which has been set up for bombers in recent years, was to his liking, especially in chilly temperatures on the weekend.
'The course played to my favour because of the fact it was playing fast and firm. If it was wet and soft, it would have been very difficult for me to perform the way I did,' Johnson said.
'As far as my attitude went, especially during the tournament, all along I felt pretty good about my game, especially my putting. At that time, I was seeing the lines pretty well and I had the speed down to an extent, so I felt pretty good about that. My whole mindset was really `Why not me?' '
The toughest dog in the yard at majors usually has the answer to that question. Put Tiger Woods anywhere near the top of the leaderboard and you know his teeth are showing. It's not exactly comforting to have Retief Goosen, Rory Sabbatini, Stuart Appleby or Justin Rose in the neighborhood either.
'When Tiger is in the last group on a Sunday in any tournament, especially a major, he's supposed to win,' Johnson said.
'As far as him breathing down my neck, I didn't really feel that to be honest with you. I certainly heard his eagle on 13, but I didn't look at the leaderboard until about 16 and there were still two groups behind me,' Johnson said.
'There were so many players involved, it's unfair to say it's just Tiger.'
He is correct, but Johnson left those names in his wake as his uninspiring one-over score for the tournament was two better than Woods, Goosen and Sabbatini. This unremarkable guy was suddenly remarkable as he slipped on his green jacket, but the truth is he was always remarkable with his gentlemanly qualities.
His career also seems headed in the direction of remarkable and while many pundits will try to explain why, that isn't the question in Johnson's case.
The appropriate question is: Why not?
Email your thoughts to Ian Hutchinson
Toronto Sun Editor's Note: Ian Hutchinson is golf columnist for the Toronto Sun and senior writer for Pro Shop Magazine, a Canadian golf trade publication, and Canadian Golfer Magazine. He is also a frequent contributor to Golf Scene and Golf Canada Magazine, the official magazine of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.
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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook played a six-hole stretch in 6 under and shot an 8-under 64 in breezy conditions Saturday to take the lead at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook began the run at La Quinta Country Club with birdies on Nos. 4-5, eagled the sixth and added birdies on No. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30.

After a bogey on the 10th, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 15 and saved par on the 18th with a 20-footer to take a 19-under 197 total into the final round on PGA West's Stadium Course. The 26-year-old former Arkansas player is making his first start in the event. He won at Sea Island in November for his first PGA Tour title.

Fellow former Razorbacks star Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were a stroke back. Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 on the Stadium Course. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. They are both winless on the PGA Tour.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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Jon Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium Course to reach 17 under. The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3, Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

Scott Piercy also was two strokes back after a 66 at the Stadium.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, and Harkins shot 68 on the Stadium Course.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium Course to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time.

The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. The Southern California recruit had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over for the week.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine – and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Mickelson misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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LAAC returning to Casa de Campo in 2019

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 8:23 pm

The Latin America Amateur Championship will return to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic in 2019 (Jan. 17-20), event organizers announced Saturday in Chile, where this year’s championship is underway.

The LAAC champion receives an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club every spring.

The champion is also exempt into The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event for which he is eligible to compete. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The championship got its start in 2015 with Chile’s Matias Dominguez winning at Pilar Golf in Argentina. In 2016, Casa de Campo hosted, with Costa Rica’s Paul Chaplet winning. At 16, he became the first player from Central America to compete in the Masters. In 2017, Chile’s Toto Gana won the title at  Club de Golf de Panama.