Johnson Proves Its Not All About Power
'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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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.
Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.
Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.
The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.
Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.
Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.
Third-round tee times for the 147th Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.
Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.
Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.
Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.
Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.
4:15AM ET: Gavin Green
4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed
4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose
4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton
4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley
5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner
5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson
5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)
5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood
5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello
6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford
6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma
6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele
6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood
6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na
6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin
7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim
7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira
7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters
7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li
7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker
7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink
8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook
8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris
8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim
8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari
8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson
8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell
9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka
9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott
9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren
9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone
9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett
10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler
10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell
10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau
10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen
10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele
10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood
11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson
Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.
He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.
“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.
At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.
Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.
“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”
Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?
Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.
Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.
“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”
Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.
Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.
“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.
More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.
“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”