Under a brolley and under the radar, Johnson seizes Open chance
Zach Johnson didn’t break into a rain dance when he threw back the curtains this morning - but he wasn’t exactly cussing either.
Three years after he became Champion Golfer at St Andrews, the American carded a four-under 67 in demanding conditions to move to six-under in his pursuit of a second Claret Jug.
Johnson is not a big hitter - his 290-yard average on the PGA Tour ranks him 146th - which is why links golf, where plotting, planning, strategy and stealth are so important, suits his game.
And that’s further underlined by 11 consecutive cuts he has made at the world’s oldest major and seven top-25 finishes.
He hit his worst shot of the day on the first tee but the 66 that followed were much better - that opening hole bogey followed by three birdies in the next five holes and two on the back nine, including a well-held putt on the 18th to secured him a clubhouse lead.
“I think my game lends itself to this championship because my style can play here,” he said.
“I’m not going to sit here and say, man, I just love playing in the wind and rain because I don't, but I can do it. Whatever the conditions I'm going to go out and fight.
“But it’s just two days. It's just I've still got a lot of work to do this week and I'm not going to take anything for granted. Based on what I've done in the past and what I've done the last two days.
“I feel like this championship more than any tournament completely magnifies exactly what I need to work on, my strengths and my weaknesses. Once I learned about it, I just gravitated towards this style of golf. I greatly appreciate how the game was formed over here, how this championship came into fruition back in 1860. Everything about it, I've embraced and love.”
“Augusta is Augusta but you know what you're going to get there. It probably doesn't favour me unless the conditions are really, really firm and fast, meaning the scores are not 15-under.”
Johnson is staying with fellow Americans Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jimmy Walker, Jason Dufner, Rickie Fowler and Kevin Kisner this week.
And while he might be the ‘father of the house’ at 42, Johnson insists being among the 20-somethings - and Walker and Dufner - is good for his game.
“I wasn't in a fraternity in college but it kind of feels like I'm going back to my alma mater and I'm the old guy stepping into the current frat house,” he added.
“It does make the week significantly easier because I'm with buddies and I'm with guys that I can feed off and vice versa. It's never a bad thing to bond or hang out, whether you're competing or not.”
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