Zach Johnson Goes Low at Quail Hollow

1 05 2009

Zach Johnson went low today at Quail Hollow and it could’ve been even lower.

The Cedar Rapids native and 2007 Masters champ who sits on the John Deere Classic Executive Board shot a 5-under par 67, leaving him near the top of the leaderboard with a two-day total of 7-under par.

“My execution of golf shots was perfect,” Zach said afterward.

Zach was a birdie machine for much of the day on Friday. He made his first on No. 4 then reeled off consecutive birdies on Nos. 8, 9, 10, and 11. After a par on No. 12, he made three more consecutive birdies on Nos. 13, 14, and 15, putting him at 8-under.

Zach’s momentum stalled when he bogeyed his final three holes, also known as the “Green Mile.” The nickname is a nice bit of golf hyperbole originating from a Stephen King novel; it refers to a prisoner’s final walk prior to his execution. In recent years, the holes have been ranked as among the most difficult finishing stretches on the PGA Tour.

Still, despite his less than stellar finish, Zach said he probably wouldn’t have played the last three any differently.

“I hit five shots on those three holes that, given the situation, I’m not so sure I would change,” Zach said. “…I mean my execution was great.”

The winds are a major factor, according to Zach.

“There are certain areas, when it’s low like that – 16, 17, 18 – you’ve got some tree blockage and you’ve got just kind of a bowl there. That’s when [the wind] starts to swirl, and it makes it difficult. All in all, it’s a guessing game. You’ve got to find what you think is the wind, and that’s what I did – at least it felt like it – and just commit to your shots and try to execute.”

Zach’s execution so far this season has been solid. He has three top 10 finishes in 10 starts, including a victory at the Sony Open and a T-3 at Bay Hill. He stands sixth in FedEx Cup points and has earned more than $1.8 million so far.

Meanwhile, this week he faces a sea of big name players, including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Angel Cabrera, etc., who are using the event to tune up for next week’s Players Championship.

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