Day 8 Johnson Mr Cool at Masters

By Mercer BaggsDecember 18, 2007, 5:00 pm
Editor's note; In the holiday spirit, the GolfChannel.com Team is counting down the 12 Days of Golf, the most memorable days of the 2007 season. This is Day 8. Watch Golf Central Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 8 p.m. ET for their Year-End Special!
 
Day 8The U.S. Open offers up an occasional surprise winner. The Open Championship does it a little more often ' the PGA Championship even more so.
 
But not the Masters. The Larry Mizes of the world are few and very far between during green jacket ceremony time.
 
On April 8, 2007, however, the time had arrived for another Guess Who?
 
Zach Johnson
Zach Johnson was the first player not named Tiger or Phil to win the Masters since 2003. (Getty Images)
Zach Johnson began the final round at Augusta National trailing leader Stuart Appleby by two strokes. Also ahead of him was Tiger Woods, who was just one off the lead, and a group of players not far in the rearview, including Phil Mickelson, David Toms and Jim Furyk.
 
To say that Johnson was the least accomplished of all these players is an understatement. He had only one PGA TOUR win to his credit, that coming in his rookie season of 2004 just down the road at the then-named BellSouth Classic.
 
But this had been a strange, strange week in Augusta, Ga., and Saturday was the oddest. The temperature never reached 50 degrees in the third round, the scoring average was 77.35, and the 54-hole lead stood at 2 over par.
 
There was a sense of normalcy Sunday afternoon, when four-time Masters champion Tiger Woods birdied the second hole to take the outright lead.
 
And then things got wacky again.
 
For only the third time in his professional career, Woods lost the lead in a major championship. And for the first time, he failed to get it back.
 
Tiger made bogeys on the sixth and 10th holes, and broke his 4-iron hitting a tree at the 11th. Despite an eagle on the par-5 13th, he was unable to do better than even-par 72. It marked the first time Tiger failed to break par in any round during a Masters Tournament. His 3-over total left him in a tie for second place (just his third-ever runner-up showing in a major).
 
This day, though, wont be remembered for Tiger Woods losing ' or Appleby (75) or anyone else ' it will be forever remembered as the major Zach Johnson rightfully won.
 
The old adage that that Masters isnt won until the back nine on Sunday held true.
 
Johnson made three birdies in a four-hole stretch on the inward half. He birdied the par-5 13th, after laying up, and the par-4 14th. After another lay-up on the par-5 15th led to a routine par, he made a 12-footer for birdie at the par-3 16th to give himself a three-stroke cushion.
 
That advantage was reduced to two following a bogey at 17, but a clutch up-and-down at 18 saved the day for the 31-year-old from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
 
After a kiss from his wife and a kiss to his newborn daughter, Johnson waited to see how Woods would finish; after all, this was Tiger Woods ' and no one had won the Masters from outside the final group since 1990.
 
But there was no Tiger magic this time around, no hole-out from the fairway. And dont think Johnson wasnt holding his breath when Woods struck his approach to the 18th hole.
 
I was sitting in the locker room, waiting for Tiger to hit his shot on 18, and I thought, He's done stranger things, Johnson said.
 
Johnson was referring to the regular locker room for Masters participants ' a place he will no longer be required to use for storage. Johnson now gets to use the Champions locker, alongside the likes of Tiger and Phil and Vijay, and all the legends who still attend the annual April event.
 
Phil Mickelson was the man who had the honor of placing the green jacket on Johnsons shoulders, while Johnson felt it a privilege to have won on Easter Sunday.
 
My faith is very important to me, he said. I had people looking after me. It was awesome.
 
Johnsons win revived memories of a major triumph 52 years prior. It was at the 1955 U.S. Open that Jack Fleck, a fellow Iowan, stunned the golf world by defeating Ben Hogan in a playoff.
 
Johnsons win wasnt quite as shocking, but it was still a surprise, especially if you consider the fact that in two previous starts at Augusta he had a missed cut and a tie for 32nd.
 
Johnson went on to win four starts later at the AT&T Classic, formerly the BellSouth, which gave him three career wins, all in the state of Georgia.
 
Johnson had always been a bulldog on the course. In college he attended Drake University (whose nicknames is the Bulldogs) on a golf scholarship. He wasnt anything overly special in the collegiate ranks, but he did manage to steadily improve.
 
Upon turning pro, Johnson worked his way to the PGA TOUR, first by winning on the Prairie Tour and then the Hooters Tour and then the Nationwide Tour, where he was the Player of the Year in 2003.
 
It took Johnson only nine starts as a rookie in 04 to notch his first PGA TOUR victory. He didnt win again until his Masters triumph.
 
This year was special for Johnson, easily the best hes ever endured in the professional ranks. He finished seventh on the final FedExCup standings, was eighth on the money list with nearly $4 million, and moved inside the top 15 on the Official World Golf Ranking.
 
The question now being asked is: Where does Zach go from here?
 
That leads to other questions like: Will he become a top-10 player in the world? And, of course, Will he ever win another major?
 
Regardless of the answers to those, Johnson is, as of April 8, 2007, a major champion now and forever.
 
Related Links:
  • Johnson Wins Masters Tournament
  • Golf Central Special: Comparing Masters and U.S. Open
  • 12 Days of Golf Countdown
  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''