A New Way To Beat Augusta ?
Let's start with a hearty congratulations to young Zach Johnson for a gutsy win yesterday. The Masters ! Tiger Woods breathing down your neck ! And he held up like a champion. Kudos to you, young man.
But isn't Augusta supposed to have been Tiger-proofed, stretched to almost 7,500 yards ? Wasn't it supposed to eliminate all but the longest hitters in the game ?
More than one golf scribe has written that the lengthening of Augusta National had eliminated from the chance for victory all but a dozen or so of the longest, strongest in the game.
So how is it that Zach Johnson, ranked 157th in driving distance for the year so far, who hits it all of 276.3 off the tee (that's almost 25 yards out of the top ten !), was treated to a fitting of the famed jacket yesterday evening ?
Well, I've got two insights into that for you.
First of all - no question - it was his week. That's the way golf is, right ?
And when the golf gods smiled upon him with a grand week, he had the composure and ability to keep his wits and play "in peace."
He gave credit to his Lord Jesus in his remarks, which I found humbling and inspirational.
But Zach Johnson did his part, too. He came into this place knowing he couldn't overpower Augusta National, so he played it "his way."
And his way is to capitalize on the fact that he is 11th on the tour in driving accuracy, putting his tee shot in the fairway over 71 percent of the time. Anyone who has watched the Masters for long knows that there is little rough, but that this course has to be played from the correct spot in the fairway. Zack Johnson found those spots more often than not.
But what really impressed me is when Mr. Johnson said he came here with the game plan of never going for a par 5 in two shots.
What ? No eagle heroics on 13 and 15 all week ? Who would dare play Augusta like that ?
Well, he decided he would. And you know what ? He played the par 5's better than anyone in the field for the week. Twelve par 5's in four rounds. Zack Johnson's strategy produced eleven birdies and no bogies - the best in the field !!
What do you bet he put a lot of extra practice into his wedge play in the weeks leading up to this ?
He knew he could count on them, and he did. And it paid off.
So, maybe there's a lesson in that for all of us. After all, we're not going to beat the golf courses we play with our drivers, but we can play them "Zach's way", with our wedges.
Next time you're on the driving range, pounding away with your driver, think about diverting a good portion of that time to hitting wedges.
Zach Johnson will tell you that's the way to beat a golf course...any golf course....even Augusta National.
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I'll say this - I've birdied more par5's from a wedge shot than I have after a 3 wood second shot.
Congrats to Zach !
Now if I can figure out how to hit 71% of the fairways I see ...
John Richardson says:
Great post. Very much (again) what I was thinking too. I became a wedge fiend in my quest for the par round and really fell in love with them.
What I love most about the Johnson story though is how he managed to ignore all those folk who regard the Masters as something that can only be won by the big hitters. All the old guys were preaching this before it started.
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