Sunday, April 08, 2007

Masters: Zach Johnson Wears Green [J. Mark English]

From the San Diego Tribune:

A strange week at the Masters saved the biggest surprises for the end Sunday – a green jacket for unheralded Zach Johnson, and beating Tiger Woods at that.

Johnson pulled away from Woods and the rest of the pack with three birdies in a crucial four-hole stretch along the back nine of Augusta National, closing with a 69 for a two-shot victory and only the second of his career.

Johnson, 31, is the least accomplished Masters champion since Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman in a playoff 20 years ago, but this was no fluke. Even as some of the thrills returned in the final round, Johnson kept his calm.

And there wasn't anything Woods could do about it.

Woods looked like a lock when he took the lead after a short birdie on the second hole, only this major didn't work out like so many others. Johnson and three other players came after him, and Woods was the one who backed off with sloppy mistakes – a broken club and shots that either found the water or the bunker, too many putts that stayed out of the cup.

It was the third time Woods lost a lead during the final round of a major, and the first time he failed to get it back.

Johnson finished at 1-over 289, matching a Masters record last set in 1956 for highest winning score. And it ended a streak of the winner coming out of the final group at Augusta National ever year since 1991.

Comments -

I heard some fans were complaining about not seeing enough birdies, and having to watch an awful lot of bogies. The players who win in conditions like these have to play better then they do when conditions are perfect. Every shot is a challenge. One of the announcers yesterday said that playing the course was like being tormented by a beautiful woman. You know how privileged you are to be near her, but you never have a good shot with her. That analogy is so appropriate, and it made this years Masters all the more better.

Can you ask for better drama then what you had in the final rounds? Tiger Woods trying desperately to battle back to win yet another major? In the end, he was denied, and Zach Johnson prevailed. It was a great Masters. Now we can look forward to the U.S. Open in June.

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