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Zach Johnson

Zach Johnson the Giant Killer

Zach Johnson picked up his 11th win on the PGA Tour on Monday when he scored a 66 to win the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on a Plantation Course at Kapalua, Hawaii. Johnson finished the tournament with a one shot lead over Jordan Spieth, who led entering the final round. The win was Johnson’s third from his last six starts.

In December last year, Johnson also won the World Challenge in California. He finished that tournament ahead of Tiger Woods who, as discussed in a previous blog post, was one of the giants of 2013.

The real giant killing is not in the opposition that Johnson slays but in the way he beats his opponents. Perhaps the most interesting part of Johnson’s recent winning form is that rather than being a big hitter off the tee or in the fairways, it has been his shortest clubs that have been working the hardest for him. This was particularly surprising given the length of the fairways in Kapalua. Johnson was not driving the farthest but his tactics and accuracy when using wedges more than made up for this. The wind at Kapalua did benefit Johnson on a couple of the longer holes but it was his wedge that was in control of adjusting his sails.

His comparatively small physical stature and tactical prowess evokes images of a golf playing Napoleon Bonaparte. The good news though, in stark contrast to Bonaparte, Johnson is very humble. When Tiger Woods once mentioned that he considered Johnson to be a good putter, Johnson laughed it off and remarked “He only thinks I’m a good putter because he only sees me on TV. And the only time I’m on TV is when I’m playing well. And when I’m playing well, I’m putting well.”

The Sony Open will be the next tournament that we will be able to marvel at Johnson’s silky skills. Based on his recent form, Zach Johnson, the modest, giant killing, introvert is an excellent chance of taking the honors.

Image credit: Keith Allison

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