Golf: Open triumph whets Zach Johnson's appetite for major glory

US golfer Zach Johnson speaking at a press conference on Aug 11.
US golfer Zach Johnson speaking at a press conference on Aug 11. PHOTO: AFP

KOHLER, United States (AFP) - Zach Johnson waited eight years for a second helping of major championship success, and his British Open triumph last month only whetted his appetite for more.

"You get a taste of one, you want another one," Johnson said of golf's biggest prizes. "You get a taste of two, I can tell you, you still want another one."

Johnson, who captured his first major title at the Masters in 2007, emerged victorious from a gripping four-hole playoff against South African Louis Oosthuizen and Australian Marc Leishman at St Andrews to double his tally of major titles.

While the 39-year-old American was flying under the radar in both those tournaments, he will be squarely in the spotlight as the 97th PGA Championship tees off on Thursday at Whistling Straits.

He is paired in the first and second rounds with world No. 1 and defending champion Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, winner of the Masters and US Open this year.

Johnson said he was looking forward to being part of that "super-group" and was not worried about the distraction of what is sure to be a huge gallery.

"I feel like I've experienced it all," said Johnson, citing the first two rounds he played at the 2012 Barclays with Tiger Woods and McIlroy.

"The Tiger crowds are basically second to none as far as numbers and I would say audio," Johnson said. "To me, the more the merrier."

With a smaller gallery, movement can be more noticeable, Johnson said. "But if it's just lined with people, it's almost like tunnel vision. It's almost easier."

He finished tied for third with McIlroy the last time the PGA Championship was played at Whistling Straits, one shot out of the playoff won by Martin Kaymer over Bubba Watson in 2010.

"I feel like I'm a better player than I was five years ago," Johnson said. "I feel like my technique and fundamentals are probably a bit more polished.

"But that doesn't mean it will transfer on the golf course," added Johnson, who said the memory of posting four sub-par rounds here five years ago wouldn't necessarily help him this week.

"I've had weeks and tournaments on golf courses, played really, really well and come back with extreme confidence and tanked it," he said.

"Knowing there's a little bit of confidence is great, but the execution now comes on my shoulders and hopefully it happens this week."