Zach Johnson hails British Open as 'purest form of golf we have'

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Zach Johnson hails British Open as 'purest form of golf we have'

PGA Tour

Zach Johnson hails British Open as 'purest form of golf we have'

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The ninth hole at Carnoustie was a little backed up early Wednesday afternoon. Ryan Moore was standing there by himself while Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner putted on the eighth green, figuring out the intricacies ahead of the 147th British Open.

Moore was still standing there when Johnson approached and flashed two fingers.

“Sorry, got two. We’re full,” Johnson said.

Moore laughed and they started to talk shop while waiting on the tee, with Johnson flipping through yardage books and talking club selection, clearly enjoying the challenge presented by the toughest course in the British Open rotation.

Maybe that explains why Johnson has been one of the best American links players over the past decade.

“I just think it’s the purest form of golf that we have,” Johnson said. “Whatever Mother Nature has is what you get. More than that I’ve gotten accustomed to bumps and rolls, hitting it low, hitting it high, getting accustomed to the speed of the greens. I think the main key there is I’ve just embraced it, you know what I mean?”

The Cedar Rapids, Iowa native seemed especially confident ahead of Thursday’s 1:15 p.m. Carnoustie tee time with Adam Scott and Brendan Steele. He has good reason with three consecutive top-20 finishes entering the week, including a T-16 his last time out at the John Deere Classic, and he was clearly leading the discussion with Moore and Kisner walking up the ninth fairway.

Johnson walked off after nine holes and talked enthusiastically about the course and his links success while signing autographs and packing his clubs into a shuttle van that takes players from the ninth green back to the practice area. It was around 3:30 p.m. at Carnoustie and from there, he was planning to putt and call it a day.

Johnson has made 11 consecutive British Open cuts, the current record, with three top-10 finishes over the last six years. That includes his 2015 title at St. Andrews and speaks to the importance of everything he’s learned at age 42.

“Experience in this arena is massive,” said Johnson, who missed the cut his first three tries at this event.

So is keeping it in the fairway, something Johnson has consistently accomplished over the years to beat opponents who hit it way longer with a driver in their hands. Here, Johnson’s fairways and greens approach pays dividends.

“Picking the right tee shot is important,” Johnson said. “However, hitting it straighter is more important. A straight shot is typically gonna be fine, regardless of whether it’s a 6 iron or a driver.”

With conditions like that and a sterling record, Johnson is clearly in his element here. And he should be taken very seriously as a contender as he tries to add Claret Jug No. 2 this week at a course that suits his eye and keeps his attention at every turn.

“I love it,” Johnson said. “My game feels good. It’s one of those things, I don’t know what to hit on each tee box and even if you think you know, you might get a bad bounce right where you want it and it may not work. It’s a matter of patience.”

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