SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Zach Johnson is better prepared this time. Most major champions are the second time around.
“The shock and awe of Augusta was pretty intense and I would say this year it's more just extreme awe. The shock isn't quite as significant,” Johnson said Tuesday at the PGA Championship.
Four weeks ago, Johnson added the claret jug to his green jacket, upping his major collection to two. After winning the Masters in 2007, he didn’t notch another top-five finish in a major until the 2010 PGA – at this year’s venue, Whistling Straits.
Johnson finished tied for third, five years ago, one stoke removed from a playoff. As Martin Kaymer was defeating Bubba Watson in the extra session, Johnson was consoling another Johnson.
Dustin Johnson infamously missed out on the playoff as well when he was called for a two-stroke penalty for grounding his club in a bunker on the 72nd hole.
“Dustin’s locker [was] next to mine, for obvious reasons. I consoled him the best I could. What do you say? He was upset, clearly, as he should be. But his attitude was actually pretty good,” Zach Johnson said.
“I remember walking from the locker room to the parking lot next to him. And it was a little bit awkward with cameras around us, we were just chatting it up. He wanted to get out of there. And once again, I would, too.”
While the long-hitting Johnson may have some demons to exorcise this week, the plodding one is brimming with confidence.
In addition to his triumph at St. Andrews, Zach Johnson has plenty of good vibes relating to Whistling Straits – even if it’s not among his favorite tracks.
“I'm going to cling to the positives of five years ago and I know what those are. Bottom line is, mentally I know I can play here. I know this golf course, kind of what it demands, and I think there's aspects of it that really suit my golf game,” Johnson said.
“Embracing that, knowing there's a little bit of confidence is great, but the execution now comes on my shoulders and hopefully it happens this week.”