The Open 2015

Johnson makes best of chance

Zach Johnson getting a kiss from his wife Kim Barclay after winning The Open on Monday. The 39-year-old American now has two Majors among his 12 PGA Tour victories.
Zach Johnson getting a kiss from his wife Kim Barclay after winning The Open on Monday. The 39-year-old American now has two Majors among his 12 PGA Tour victories.PHOTO: REUTERS

Under-the-radar American gets his due with uncluttered approach on final day

ST ANDREWS (Scotland) • Zach Johnson on Monday entered golf's record books as the only player to win his first two career Majors at Augusta National and St Andrews - the two most famous courses in the world.

But the American refused to get too carried away after winning the 144th British Open in a four-hole play-off with South African Louis Oosthuizen and Australian Marc Leishman on Monday.

"This isn't going to define me or my career, at least I hope it doesn't," the down-to-earth Johnson, a father of three, said.

"It's not my legacy. Granted, as a professional athlete and as a golfer, I'm going to relish this, I'm going to savour this. I'm humbled by this but my legacy should be my kids, my family, that kind of thing."

His Major wins were eight years apart, having won the Masters in 2007.

  • FINAL LEADER BOARD

  • (Gbr & Irl unless stated)

    273 Zach Johnson (USA) 66 71 70 66, Marc Leishman (Aus) 70 73 64 66, Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 67 70 67 69 - Johnson won four-hole play-off
    274 Jason Day (Aus) 66 71 67 70, Jordan Spieth (USA) 67 72 66 69
    277 Justin Rose 71 68 68 70, Sergio Garcia (Esp) 70 69 68 70, Danny Willett 66 69 72 70, a-Jordan Niebrugge (USA) 67 73 67 70
    278 AdamScott (Aus) 70 67 70 71, Brooks Koepka (USA) 71 70 69 68

    Selected
    279 Martin Kaymer (Ger) 71 70 70 68, Luke Donald 68 70 73 68
    280 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 72 66 71 71
    281 Phil Mickelson (USA) 70 72 70 69, Patrick Reed (USA) 72 70 67 72
    282 Jim Furyk (USA) 73 71 66 72, a-Paul Dunne 69 69 66 78, Rickie Fowler (USA) 72 71 66 73
    283 Henrik Stenson (Swe) 73 70 71 69
    284 Dustin Johnson (USA) 65 69 75 75

Only Ben Crenshaw and Julius Boros (11 years) had waited longer between their first two Majors in the Masters era.

Yet, no one should be surprised if Johnson goes on to win several more Majors.

Even though he is approaching 40, he is working harder than ever and is performing at his peak.

And he believes he is now a more rounded performer than when he donned the Green Jacket.

"I feel like I'm a better player than I was then," he said after climbing from 25th to 12th in the world rankings.

"I never really thought I'd win one Major. Then you get one and certainly you feel like you can win more and you want to win more. It drives you, motivates you to practise and get better.

"I really love golf and certainly as I've gotten older, I've enjoyed practising more. I've enjoyed working out more, fortunately. I enjoy the gym and getting the opportunity to go out and work."

In both Major wins, he came in under the radar. He was a 100-1 outsider before the start of this Open.

Johnson said his play-off win was down to "patience and perseverance" and "making the best of opportunities".

His name did not appear atop the leaderboard until he stormed down the front nine on Monday with a burst of birdies.

He then held firm down the tougher back nine and sank a snaking downhill 20-footer to pitch the clubhouse lead with a six-under 66. It was the lowest final round of his Major career (31 rounds) and no one was able to better his 273 total.

Oosthuizen and Leishman carded a 69 and a 66 respectively.

The South African and the American immediately distanced themselves from Leishman with birdies at the first hole to the Australian's bogey.

Johnson sank another birdie at the second, which proved to be enough to get him over the line in a play-off that also took the trio to the 17th and 18th holes.

A bogey-par finish proved to be a low-key end, not that Johnson would have it any other way.

"I'm just so into what I'm trying to do, and my game plan is as such, and I just try to go at it," he said.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2015, with the headline 'Johnson makes best of chance'. Print Edition | Subscribe