He seems underappreciated by the American golf fan, but Zach Johnson is one of his country’s true golf stars today. A winner of nine PGA Tour events, including the 2007 Masters, Johnson’s golf game matches his demeanor – steady.
Raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Johnson played many sports as a kid, gravitating to golf at the age of 10. He was never the best player on his high school team and was lightly recruited, eventually landing at Drake University, hardly a golf powerhouse. Even there, Johnson was not the best player on his team and didn’t earn any All-American honors. So why turn pro? In Johnson’s own words, “I just kept getting better every year.”
After several years of grinding away on the mini-tours, Johnson first hit national prominence in 2002, when, as a Hooters Tour player, he nearly finished in the top 10 at the Bell South Classic in Atlanta, then a PGA Tour event. In 2003, he was the Nationwide (now Web.com) Tour’s leading money winner, earning his tour card for 2004. He won that year as a rookie in…where else?…Atlanta, and never looked back.
Coming into the 2007 Masters, Johnson was definitely not one of the favorites. The weather that week was cold and windy, which negated the advantage the big hitters had on the par-5s. Johnson employed a strategy of never going for the par-5s in two, using his deadly wedge game to collect 11 birdies on those holes.
He has played in two Presidents Cups and in three Ryder Cups, and is sure to be a presence on the world golf scene for years to come.