As Zach Johnson piled up birdies during the final round of the Open Championship, he had a number in mind that he wanted to reach. But teeing off an hour before the leaders, he also had to keep tabs on the players behind him - notably the man who at the time was still chasing the single-season Grand Slam.
Johnson appeared on "Morning Drive" Wednesday to detail his thought process down the stretch at St. Andrews, and he admitted that tracking Jordan Spieth's progression up the leaderboard was one of his priorities.
"I'm looking at the board thinking, 'OK, I've got Louis (Oosthuizen),' and there's Adam Scott at one point and all of these guys, and I'm thinking, 'Where's Jordan?'" Johnson said. "And then sure enough, here he comes on 16, he makes a bomb and he's right in the middle of it again."
Spieth's bid for a third straight major came up one shot short, as Johnson ultimately defeated Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman in a four-hole playoff to claim his second major title. But the Champion Golfer of the Year had nothing but praise for the 21-year-old with whom he shared a flight back to the U.S. after the tournament.
"He's a phenom talent. He's a tremendous competitor, a guy that doesn't come around very often," Johnson said. "It's great to be able to play someone like that who is playing so good, and certainly to come out on top, for me. At the same time, he's a great friend, he's a great kid and he's an even better person than he is a player."
Social media lit up Tuesday night when a picture surfaced of Spieth drinking from the claret jug on the flight home, and Johnson said he plans to afford friends and family alike the opportunity to sip from golf's oldest trophy in the coming year.
"I'm sure there's been a lot in the past, and there will be a lot in the future. I'm going to try to keep it clean," he said. "Certainly there's a responsibility that comes along with this beautiful jug, and what it's all about. At the same time, it's a decanter, so it's meant to be drank out of."