Johnson relishes being an underdog

By Jason SobelJanuary 7, 2014, 3:56 am

KAPALUA, Hawaii – The last time we saw Zach Johnson playing the 72nd hole of a golf tournament, it was a whirlwind of emotions inside a vortex of dramatics. In case your memory can’t travel back to a time before you ate that holiday fruitcake, here’s the scenario: Tied going into the final hole of last month’s Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, Johnson shanked – his word, not mine – an iron shot into the water hazard guarding the right side of the green. He then took a drop and from 58 yards holed a wedge shot for par to eventually force a playoff that he would win over none other than Tiger Woods.

By comparison, Monday’s foray to the final hole reflected the laid-back nature of this small-field event in an idyllic island paradise. Johnson led by two strokes when he reached the par-5 18th at the Plantation Course, then made a more routine par, reaching the green in three and two-putting before being bum-rushed by his three adorable kids. When Jordan Spieth failed to post eagle in the group behind, Johnson had clinched his 11th career PGA Tour title.

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A player with that many victories – including one at a little place called Augusta National Golf Club – doesn’t need much confidence-boosting, but even Johnson acknowledged that beating the world’s No. 1-ranked player head-to-head didn’t hurt morale as he entered the 2014 campaign.

“Anytime you beat the No. 1 player in the world or one of the best players to ever play or arguably in a field of that depth - I know it's only 18 deep, but talent wise - confidence comes from it,” he said. “Hopefully it breeds it and it breeds momentum.”

Johnson is all about momentum right now. He won the BMW Championship in his penultimate start of last season, compiled a 3-1-0 record for the United States at the Presidents Cup, then won the event known as Tiger’s tournament in the so-called offseason.

The title of World’s Hottest Golfer is a fleeting one. Just ask Adam Scott, who seemed to have a stranglehold on that position after nearly winning the Australian triple crown recently. It’s a purely subjective ordering, but one which should find Johnson currently atop it after this second straight win.

Not that he’ll enjoy being there.

Never the longest hitter nor the most talented player, Johnson relishes the underdog role. He identifies with being David against fields of Goliaths – even if this David prevails more frequently.

“I've always liked the teams and the individuals that are kind of coming from behind, that are not supposed to win,” he explained. “Those always intrigued me in sports. Competition intrigues me more than anything. But the competitive aspects of sport that really drive me are those situations where Wichita State makes the Final Four, you know? George Mason and Butler almost win a national title. I love that kind of stuff. I'm not a fan of them, but you catch my drift. I love seeing the underdogs.

“I'm not saying I'm always an underdog, but I kind of feel like it. If anything, I put myself in that posture where I feel like I'm an underdog.”

He’s certainly among the most overlooked stars in the game. Already a top-10 player before this win, he’s now five victories away from equaling Jim Furyk’s career and four away from that of Fred Couples. There aren’t many who would place Johnson in the World Golf Hall of Fame right now – and for good reason; he’s not worthy yet – but the 37-year-old said this week that he’s made a goal of winning 20 times, which would undoubtedly qualify.

This one might have happened no matter what. It might have happened if he never chased down Woods last month; it might have happened if he didn’t recover from the shank; it might have happened if he’d lost in the ensuing playoff.

We’ll never know. What we do know is that beating Woods in such fashion definitely didn’t hurt his confidence going forward.

“When you beat the No. 1 player in the world,” said his longtime caddie Damon Green, “it makes you a little more comfortable, I think.”

Johnson was the underdog that day, just as he was on this one at Kapalua, with major champions and big bombers and young studs also in contention. And that was just fine with him.

As he’s come to learn 11 times now in his career, David can still beat those so-called Goliaths.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to

Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

Christina Kim:

LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

LPGA pro Jennie Lee: