Zachs Win More than Self Serving

By Mercer BaggsApril 8, 2007, 4:00 pm
Zach Johnson won the 71st Masters Tournament Sunday. But he didnt do it alone.
Being Easter, my faith is very important to me, he said, fighting to keep his composure in his immediate post-round interview with CBS Sports. Jesus was with me every step of the way.
It was just about one year ago that Aaron Baddeley won the Verizon Heritage, also doing so on Easter Sunday.
Zach Johnson
The sun shone on Zach Johnson Sunday as he won the Masters. (WireImage)
Both Baddeley and Johnson are devout Christians. And one of the first people to greet Johnson after his par save on the 72nd hole, the tap-in that locked up his first major triumph, was his good mate.
Wheres Aaron? Johnson asked in the aftermath. When he saw him, the two grasped hands and Johnson said, Happy Easter. Replied Baddeley: Im proud of you.
When athletes start talking about God and Jesus, many television viewers begin to cringe. They roll their eyes or search frantically for the remote control, trying to quickly change the channel or press the mute button. They act like an offering plate is being extended through the TV screen and into their face.
For some reason, many of us have no problem when an actor wins an Academy Award and then thanks really important people like his or her fashion designer or hairdresser. But we grow ill at ease when someone gives praise to their personal Savior.
'Regardless of what happened today, my responsibility was to glorify God,' Johnson said in his press conference when asked about what this victory meant to him. 'And hopefully He thinks that I did.'
Many feel that when an athlete or entertainer references the Lord that they are doing so in a holier-than-thou manner. That they believe that they have triumphed or succeeded simply because they are Christians and because God loves them more than everyone else.
Certainly, some invoke the name of God because they feel that its the cool thing to do. It makes them feel righteous. But, for the most part, thats not the case.
God loves us all ' those who believe fully in Him and those who dont, and everyone in between ' equally. This is a fundamental Christian belief.
It is my belief, and I would think Johnsons, too, that God really doesnt care who wins and loses a sporting event. I have to believe that hes got plenty of other things to focus on rather than who gets a relatively unattractive green sports coat.
There's an overall plan. This is just a very small part of it.
It's not as if Zach, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit formed a foursome against the rest of the field. There wasn't some favored alliance.
Afterall, there were other Christians playing on Sunday, playing all week. It's not as if Johnson loves God more than any of his Christian brothers.
And it's not as if God loves Zach anymore than you or I.
Johnson didnt win because his faith may be stronger than that of Tiger Woods or Stuart Appleby or Justin Rose or any of the other final-round contenders.
He won because he played better than everyone else. He won because he executed better than everyone else down the stretch. God didnt make three birdies on the back nine; He didnt hit any drives in the fairway or approach shots onto the green; He didnt make any putts; and He didnt roll that final chip shot within inches of the hole.
Zach Johnson did those things. He just did them with God in his heart.
If God helped Johnson, He did so by providing peace and calm amid the chaos around him. And thats a credit to Johnsons faith.
'Zach's usually jumpy and nervous,' said his caddie, Damon Green. 'Today, for some reason, he was as cool as a cucumber.'
At Sunday Easter service, my pastor said that its easy to be a Christian on Sunday, its easy to be a Christian on Easter and Christmas. But its not so easy being a Christian every day of every week. Not enough of us are strong enough in our faith to bear witness to those uncomfortable in hearing such things, particularly when we having something (endorsements, fans perhaps) to lose.
At the green jacket ceremony, after 2006 winner Phil Mickelson had slipped the coveted prize upon his shoulders, Johnson gave thanks to Augusta National; his caddie; his sponsors; and his family, including his 14-week-old son, Will, and his devoted wife, Kim.
And then, on the grounds that claim Amen Corner, he gave praise: Last but not least, being Easter Sunday, thank you, Jesus.
Email your thoughts to Mercer Baggs
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  • Fitzpatrick one back in 2018 Euro Tour opener

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 1:37 pm

    HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia had six birdies and a bogey Thursday for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open, the first event of the 2018 European Tour season.

    Playing in sunny but breezy conditions at the Hong Kong Golf Club, the greens had the players struggling to gauge the approach.

    ''Very tough conditions today,'' Chawrasia said. ''It's very firm greens, to be honest. I'm just trying to hit the second shot on the green and trying to make it like a two-putt.''

    Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

    Shubhankar Sharma and Matthew Fitzpatrick (both 66) were one shot behind, while seven others were tied for fourth a further stroke behind.

    ''Hit it great tee to green,'' Fitzpatrick said. ''I think I had like seven or eight chances inside 15 feet, and on a day like today when it's so windy and such a tough golf course, with how tight it is, yeah, it was a good day.''

    Justin Rose, who won the title in 2015, shot was 2 under with five birdies and three bogeys.

    ''I think the course played a couple shots harder than it typically does,'' Rose said. ''I like this course. I think it offers plenty of birdie opportunities.''

    Masters champion Sergio GarciaRafa Cabrera Bello and defending champion Sam Brazel (69) were in a group of 16 at 1 under.

    Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

    Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

    SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

    Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

    ''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

    But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

    In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

    ''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

    The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

    ''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

    NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.