Johnson grabs Texas Open lead with 60
Saturday, May 16, 2009
SAN ANTONIO — Defending champion Zach Johnson matched the La Cantera course record with a 10-under 60 on Saturday to take a three-stroke lead in the suspended third round of the rain-soaked Texas Open.
Johnson holed out from 84 yards for an eagle on the par-4 seventh and had eight birdies on the soggy course in the round interrupted by a five-hour rain delay. He tapped in for par on 18 seconds after the horn blew and darkness suspended play.
Paul Goydos and three-time champion Justin Leonard were 12 under through 12 holes. They’ll resume the round Sunday morning.
“I hit a lot of quality shots. I think I had to get up and down twice for par,” Johnson said. “I don’t think I missed a green on the backside.”
Johnson wore his sunglasses down to the end as dusk turned to dark, having to peer over them on the tee box at No. 18 before pushing them right back on his face. He needed just 11 holes to erase a seven-stroke deficit after waiting until nearly 4:25 p.m. to start his round.
An afternoon storm dumped more than 2 inches of rain, causing the longest delay on the PGA Tour this year. Fourteen players will finish the round Sunday before starting the final 18, when they’ll re-pair.
Marc Leishman and were Scott Sterling were 11 under before play suspended. Leishman had one hole left and Sterling will resume at 15.
Kent Jones and Fredrik Jacobson were 10 under through 14.
With the wind at his back, Johnson used an 8-iron on the par-3 17th tee to set up his final birdie. He made a little fist pump after sinking the easy 7-footer, knowing he had a chance at a becoming just the fourth player to match a Tour-record 59.
His second shot from the fairway got him to about 17 feet. The small gallery, thinned out by the lengthy delay and encroaching twilight, groaned when he came up two feet short.
“I did not want to leave that putt short,” Johnson said. “But, whatever, it was nearly pitch black.”
In October, Johnson won the Texas Open’s final fall go-around before the tournament was moved to spring. The 2007 Masters winner picked up a sixth Tour victory in January at the Sony Open in Hawaii, and the 33-year-old now has in his sights what would be a sixth Tour victory.
Sixth in the FedEx Cup standings, Johnson could vault to first with a win.
He’ll have to hold off Goydos and Leonard, who is going for a record fourth Texas Open title and was the tournament’s last back-to-back winner, in 2000 and 2001.
Leonard was both lucky and unrattled before darkness halted his pursuit of Johnson. Lining up for a possible birdie on the par-4 fifth, Leonard didn’t flinch when a car passenger coasting down a nearby street hollered “Woo-hoa!” out the window just as Leonard was about to play an 11-foot putt.
Leonard sank it perfectly, the second of three birdies. Three holes later on the par-4 eighth, his tee shot sailed left of the fairway, bounced off the cart path and into the trees — all before rolling back on the fairway.
Despite being three strokes back, Leonard took some comfort in still having 24 holes to play Sunday.
“I feel like I’ve got a couple birdie holes to play in the morning, and then hopefully have some in the afternoon,” Leonard said.
Goydos, whose 12 under had led after two rounds, lost two strokes quickly with bogeys on the par-3 third and sixth. His 120-yard tee shot on No. 6 sailed into a water hazard and cost him a drop.
On the next hole, Goydos pitched out from the rough behind the green to set up a 4-foot birdie, and got another on 12 before play was suspended.
Dustin Johnson surged from the back of the field with an 8-under 62, a career best for the 24-year-old rising star from South Carolina. He survived the cut on the number at 1 under, but quickly climbed the leaderboard with four consecutive par-4 birdies on Nos. 8 through 12.
He had nine birdies and got his only blemish with a bogey on the par-4 15th — the hole where lightning shooed Johnson off the fairway. When play resumed, the wind had shifted and Johnson’s second shot landed into the bunker beside the green because he didn’t adjust.
“(The wind) completely went opposite,” Dustin Johnson said.