British Open: A tale of two golf courses for champion Johnson

American golfer wins playoff against Oosthuizen and Leishman.


Afp July 21, 2015
A par at the historic 18th hole was enough for Johnson, with Oosthuizen narrowly missing an eight-footer to force sudden death. PHOTO: AFP

ST ANDREWS: Zach Johnson knows how to pick his spots, two majors under his belt — one at Augusta National and one at St Andrews — the two most famous golf courses in the world.

His wins were eight years apart — the Masters in 2007 and the British Open in 2015, and in both instances he came in under the radar.

That’s the way 39-year-old Johnson likes to do things — quietly, efficiently and with a minimum of fuss. But he savours them all the more so.

“It’s a feat and an honour to be invited to those tournaments, and to win at Augusta and to win The Open Championship at St Andrews,” he said. “It’s hard to put it into words, as a golfer, as an athlete, as a guy.”

Johnson added, “I’m not great in history, I can tell you that. I’m not a great historian. I know the little things that probably most know, but I do know that this [St Andrews] is the birthplace of a great game and a place that has fantastic fans.”

Johnson’s says his playoff victory at the Old Course on Monday over Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman 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 sunk a snaking downhill 20-footer to pitch the clubhouse lead at 15 under par. No-one was able to better that.

Two birdies to open the four-hole playoff proved to be enough to get him over the line, a bogey-par finish proving to be something of a low-key end.

But low-key is exactly what Johnson is all about and he makes no excuses. “I’m not the most charismatic, maybe emotional, fun-packed individual on the golf course; I get that,” he said. “Fortunately we’ve got a lot of great personalities in this game and a lot of tremendous talent.” 

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd,  2015.

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