Johnson Wins Strange One in Texas


AUSTIN, Texas -- American Rob Johnson cruised to his first Canadian Tour victory Sunday by watching the final round of the Canadian Tour Challenge from the comfort of a television studio.
The 30-year-old native fromTerre Haute, Ind., won the weather-shortened event at Barton Creek Resorts Fazio Foothills course with a 36-hole total of 10-under 134 (65-69), two strokes in front of Michael Harris (Troy, Mich.) and Mark Johnson (Helendale, Calif.). Hank Kuehne and James Driscoll were four shots off the pace.
Philip Jonas of Vancouver had the best Canadian showing, winding up tied for 8th at 4-under 140.
In as complicated a scenario as you will see in the world of professional golf, Tour officials announced Saturday that the Classic would be a 36-hole event, the first time in Canadian Tour history that a 72-hole tournament had been reduced to two rounds. That mean Johnson, who finished his second round late Saturday afternoon, could sit back and see if any of the remaining 65 golfers could take a run at his 10-under total Sunday. That never happened.
Kevin Stadler, the son of former Masters champion Craig Stadler, started the day at 6-under and seemingly had the best shot at catching Johnson. The 23-year-old birdied his second hole of the day before going on a bogey-double bogey-bogey slide that had him out of contention at the turn. Stadler struggled to a 6'over 78 and wound up falling from fourth spot to a tie for 35th.
Torrential rains washed out opening round action Thursday and caused a three-hour delay Friday morning.
Johnson, who had a pair of fourth-place showings during his six-year Tour career, arrived at Barton Creek Resort just before 11 A.M. CST in a buoyant mood. Stadler had fallen from the leaderboard minutes earlier, and Lee Williamson, his closest pursuer, was five shots back. Johnson was whisked to The Golf Channel broadcast booth where he did on-air commentary as Stadler and Williamson kicked into the stretch drive.
I dont think this will ever happen again, admitted Johnson when asked of Sundays bizarre circumstances. But those guys that came out here today had the weather to contend with, plus they knew the number they needed to catch me. They had to go to bed last night knowing what they needed to shoot, and that may have worked against them.
Those players who played most of their 36 holes on Saturday seemed to have the better side of the draw. Swirling winds Sunday didnt allow anyone to take it low, at least not low enough to challenge the leader. In fact, six of the top seven finishers were players that didnt have to take a club out of the bag on the final day of the tournament.
Having played 29 of his 36 holes Saturday, Johnson had set the early pace by finishing off an opening-round 7-under 65. The 30-year-old had time to grab a quick lunch before pegging it up for Rd. 2. As it turned out, the 56 putts he needed through 36 holes turned out to be added insurance for his initial Tour triumph. On Sunday, he awoke with the mindset it was another day of golf, dressing in his on-course attire in case a playoff materialized. Facing the prospect of playing perhaps one hole after having the entire of the day off wasnt something overly appealing to Johnson.
I was out with some friends Saturday night and (fellow Tour player) Bobby Kalinowski was telling me I had better get some sleep because I was going to be in a playoff today, joked Johnson, who met Julie, his wife of seven months, in Ottawa during his first season on Tour. It wasnt something I really thought about, but I would have had to go in there cold. These other guys had just played a round, and it could have been over for me as soon as I hit a tee shot in a playoff.