I didn’t know Zach Johnson from Bob, Magic or my brother Jimmy Johnson. No need. He was one of the faceless dozens comprising the everyone-other-than-Tiger Tour a.k.a. The PGA Tour. Not any more. Johnson, an Iowan (is anything more faceless than that?) steeled his way around Augusta National on Sunday afternoon and outlasted Tiger Woods to become perhaps the least accomplished Masters champions ever.
Get this: The victory was only Johnson’s second of his career.
Woods has won 12 majors.
But let’s face it: Tiger never showed up. At least not the Tiger we’ve come to know. Even after going bogey-bogey on 17 and 18 on Friday and Saturday, he looked as if he was one Tigeresque shot away from making everyone else on the course crawl into a hole and cry for mommy. It never happened. Woods pulled within two shots with four to play but on the par-5 15th Tiger’s second shot lingered on the embankment before tumbling into the creek. He held on for par but Tiger left a birdie – at minimum – in that creek.
Woods squandered another birdie op at 16, then misjudged his approach at 17. He landed well short of the green in a bunker, which prompted an angry outburst:
“What the hell just happened”” he asked. A moment later he added, “(Unintelligible) said downwind.”
At that moment you did not want to be Steve Williams, Woods’s caddie, who walked forward several paces ahead of his boss. Smart man.
Woods went par-par on 17 and 18 on Sunday, but needed birdie-birdie. Just after walking off the 18th green he admitted to CBS’s Bob Macatee that the duel bogey-bogies earlier in the week probably cost him a fifth green jacket.
But props to Johnson (and not just because of his last name!). He won the tournament, shooting 69 on Sunday, tying for the lowest score of the day. (Woods shot 72).
Because Tiger didn’t pull away from the field like he typically does – prompting players to swing out of their shoes and attempt shots tat just aren’t in their bags – Johnson was able to stick to his conservative strategy. He didn’t go for a single par 5 in two during the tournament, and yet often still made birdie. (He birdied 3 of Augusta’s four par 5s on Sunday.)
“He played beautifully,” Woods said. “Look at the round he shot out there, the score. He did what he needed to do. He went out there, grinded away, made shots he needed to make.”
Playing two groups ahead of Tiger, he finished well before the best player in the world and waited, like the rest of us, for the Tiger we knew to show up. In his own chat with Macatee just after walking off 18, introduced himself to America in a manner fitting of Ressurection Sunday:
“I had some people who were watching over me,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion. “My faith is every important to me, and Jesus was right there.”
He is risen, indeed.
Zach Johnson’s scorecard here.