What We Learned: Johnson wins one for 'little guys'


Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on "what we learned" from the world of golf. In this edition, our writers weigh in on Zach Johnson's incredible shot at the World Challenge, what it means for the "little guys," plus Lydia Ko's win in Taiwan.

Zach Johnson’s win was one for the little guys. Calling the latest champion short off the tee is akin to criticizing an NFL running back for being a little slow, which is to say even his perceived mediocrity amongst the world’s best is still better than 99.9 percent of the population. But in an era when power is such an integral part of the game, when a big hitter like Tiger Woods is still searching for secrets to hit the ball longer, Johnson is a relative peashooter by comparison. Even Woods, who lost to Johnson in a playoff on Sunday afternoon, acknowledged this, saying afterward, “It just goes to show you if you’re precise and you’re putting well that week, you can do well.” That was exactly the case for Johnson, who nearly holed a wedge shot on the tournament’s 70th hole, nearly made a hole-in-one on the 71st, and wedged in a par on the 72nd before winning on the first playoff hole. Like those running backs with great combine times, big bombers can look impressive on the range, but it’s even more impressive when a little guy beats ‘em on the course. – Jason Sobel

Sorry for the late notice, but is the voting for Shots of the Year still open? OK, so it wasn’t as significant as Adam Scott’s winning putt at the Masters. And it wasn’t as pure as Phil Mickelson’s back-to-back 3-woods on 17 at Muirfield. And it wasn’t as meaningful as Jordan Spieth’s hole-out from the bunker at the John Deere. But what Zach Johnson did Sunday at Sherwood – shanking his approach into the water, then holing out from the drop zone – certainly warrants a spot in the year’s top 10. Down by four shots with eight holes to play, he summoned crisp iron after crisp iron, nearly holing out shots on 16 and 17 before dunking his fourth shot on the 18th. In a year of incredible shots, Johnson saved one of the best for last. – Ryan Lavner

That some storybook finishes just don’t work out. Playing the final World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club, Tiger Woods squandered a four-stroke lead on the back nine and lost on the first extra hole to Zach Johnson. It wasn’t exactly the swansong Woods, who grew up in nearby Cypress, Calif., envisioned for his last L.A. area start for the foreseeable future. – Rex Hoggard

Lydia Ko isn't unnerved playing for money. The fact that there was $150,000 riding on putts on the back nine Sunday at the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters didn't faze her as she beat a quality field in Taiwan. Sometimes, we see a talented amateur's game change when they turn pro. Sometimes, we see a different focus. Sometimes, we see added expectations burdening them. We didn't see any of that with Ko, 16, winning her second start as a pro. – Randall Mell