Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Zach zeroes in on pins

Weak-hitting Johnson takes three-shot lead on big belter Dustin

  • Print

KAPALUA, Hawaii -- On the golf course with the widest fairways on the PGA Tour, Zach Johnson believes that keeping the ball in the short grass is key to success. On a course that favours power players because the par 5s can be reached in two, Johnson didn't make birdie on any of them Saturday.

Stranger still is that he matched the best score of the day and had a three-shot lead in the Tournament of Champions.

The only explanation is that Johnson is playing some pretty good golf.

"Am I surprised? No. It's only two days, so it's halfway done for me," Johnson said after his 7-under 66 gave him a three-shot lead. "I'm very comfortable as a competitor. One of my goals every year is those par 5s, and I'm a little bitter about that right now. But I'll get over it."

Defending champion Dustin Johnson birdied half of the holes at Kapalua for a 66 and was three shots behind, along with Matt Kuchar (68) and Jordan Spieth (70).

Zach Johnson was at 13-under 133.

Dustin Johnson approaches the Plantation Course differently. He birdied all the par 5s with his length, and only fell back with a pair of bogeys on the back nine when he missed short putts. Even so, he was in good position heading into the final two rounds of a tournament that ends Monday.

"This golf course sets up well for me," Dustin Johnson said. "I can reach all the par 5s, and there's a few short holes where you can drive it up close to the green. So if I chip and it and putt it well, I'm going to shoot a good score pretty much every time."

So what does Zach Johnson make of that outlook?

"I would say I'm up by three gross, and by eight or nine net, based on that rationale," he said.

Clearly, there's more than one way to get around a course built on a side of the mountain on the west end of Maui.

Kuchar had his second straight round of 68 with some good birdies and a few bogeys. Spieth had said he shouldn't make too many bogeys on this course if he kept it in play, though he made one on No. 7 to lose some momentum. Even so, the 20-year-old Texan had few complaints after his opening two rounds of a new year.

Webb Simpson and Michael Thompson, part of a four-way tie for the lead after the opening round, each had a 71 and were four shots behind.

Masters champion Adam Scott, who can get within range of No. 1 in the world depending on his two weeks in Hawaii, had a 70 and was seven shots behind. The Australian was in dire need to a low round to at least have chance going into Monday.

Zach Johnson is going after his second straight win.

The last one was unofficial, yet no less memorable. Johnson was four shots behind Tiger Woods in the World Challenge on the back nine and rallied to catch him, holed out from the drop zone on the 18th hole to force a playoff and then won on the first extra hole.

Except for his Masters win in 2007, it might be the most famous of his 11 victories worldwide.

"When you're talking about a guy that's done what he's done and raised the bar, any time you beat him -- especially if you're playing with him and come back from four shots with eight holes to go, it's going to happen. So I can deal with that."

Dustin Johnson has the power that is suited for Kapalua, and even though he had to withdraw from the pro-am with a sore neck, he appears to be hitting his stride. He twice had a batch of three straight birdies on the front nine to go out in 30 and claim a share of the lead, and even after missing the short putts on the 11th and 13th, he made three more birdies in the final five holes. Two of them were par 5s. Both times he had a look at eagle, missing from 20 feet on No. 15 and becoming the first player all week to reach the 689-yard, downhill closing hole in two shots. He two-putted from about 35 feet for one last birdie.

That could be attributed to a slightly more typical trade wind, though Johnson still had to give it two pretty good pops with a driver and a 3-wood.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 5, 2014 B12

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Your top TV picks for August 25-28

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A water lily in full bloom is reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Deer in Canola field near Elma, Manitoba. 060706.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who has been the Bombers MVP so far this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google