Zach Attack is Back to Back

19 05 2009

Unlike heavyweight fighters, it’s rare when champion golfers successfully defend their titles.

From a strictly mathematical standpoint, a boxer has a 50 percent chance of hanging on to his championship belt. A golfer has a one in 156 chance, because he has to contend against 155 other really good golfers – not to mention the changing state of his own golf game.

Zach Johnson continues to defy the odds. The Cedar Rapids native and John Deere Classic executive board member drained a 10-foot birdie putt Sunday on the first hole of sudden death to defeat James Driscoll and win his second consecutive Valero Texas Open at the La Cantera resort in San Antonio.
Both Zach and James will be in the field at this year’s John Deere Classic.

It was Zach’s second victory of the year – he won the Sony Open, the first full-field event of the season, in January. Like his victory earlier this year in Hawaii, his winning score yesterday was 15-under par. In 13 starts this so far this season, he has four top 10s, including a third-place finish at Bay Hill, and seven top 25s, including an 11th at Quail Hollow. He now has earned over $3.1 million officially this year – and is third on the money list – and leads the FexEx Cup point race.

The 2007 Masters champion now has six PGA Tour victories – two in Texas, three in Georgia, one in Hawaii.

Zach did it on the strength of the10-under par 60 he shot in the rain-delayed third round to take the lead. He followed it up with an even par 70 in the final round, which on most days would have been good enough to win.

Driscoll didn’t adhere to the normal script. He went out and shot an 8-under par 62 on Sunday, posted his score, and let the field try to match or exceed his number while he warmed up for the potential playoff that actually happened.

The 31-year-old tour veteran made a par on the first playoff hole, two-putting from some 20 feet. Zach had hit his approach to 10 feet and with the confidence of a major champion knocked it in for the win.

Meanwhile, several other contenders didn’t capitalize on their opportunities, including three-time champion Justin Leonard and Paul Goydos, who bogeyed the final two holes.

Because Zach’s victory in last year’s Texas Open came in October, his reign as champion lasted only seven months. This year, he’ll get to savor the victory for entire 12 months but he won’t have to opportunity to three-peat at La Cantera, as the tournament is set to move to TPC San Antonio.

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