Zach Johnson has started 2014 in the same fashion as he ended 2013 by winning the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
The Iowa man - who began the final round two shots adrift of fellow Americans and 54-hole leaders Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth - carded a bogey-free 66 to claim his third win in six events.
Johnson’s victory follows triumphs in the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge in California in December and September’s BMW Championship. He credited his performance off the tee for his latest ‘W’.
“I felt pretty comfortable the entire week,” said the former Masters champion. “I thought I was in control of my golf ball. I felt like I was in control of my putter. I had a good game plan and hit some quality shots that certainly helped but I think quality putts that helped even more.”
The victory in the ‘Aloha State’ was Johnson’s 11th on the PGA Tour and comes, coincidentally, at the start of his 11th season on the world’s most lucrative golf circuit. In all that time, he has arguably never enjoyed a purple patch quite as bright at the one he is currently in the midst of and he admits that he has even surprised himself with his form over the past few months.
"I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing and try to keep things very simple" - Zach Johnson
“I definitely feel like I've put myself in a place that is a little foreign to me,” said Johnson. “You know, some of the numbers I'm not exactly comfortable with or have never been to, meaning top ten in the world, that kind of thing. But I'm also a realist. I know this game at some point could beat me up again, so I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing and try to keep things very simple. I don't want to cluster my golf game even though I'm playing great.”
Zach Johnson’s win also denied Jordan Spieth the opportunity to become the youngest player in almost 80 years to win twice on the PGA Tour. The 20-year-old held a one-shot lead at the turn of the final round only to be overtaken by his Presidents Cup teammate down the stretch. Even so, he was able to be philosophical about his near-miss.
“I think it's a great start to the year,” said Spieth. “I was happy to not have the ball in the hazard this week, and only made two bogeys for four rounds. I can't ask for much more.”
Zach Johnson: A Masters contender?
Despite his win and recent good form, Zach Johnson remains (for now) a 40-1 shot with some bookmakers to win the Masters. Generous odds considering he knows what it takes to win at Augusta National, having slipped into a Green Jacket in 2007.