Johnson Proves Its Not All About Power

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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?
 
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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.