Twice is Nice: Zach Johnson Wins Three-Man British Open Playoff to Capture his Second Major Championship


zach johnson

Never leave your caddy hanging. 

 

For everything Zach Johnson did right on Monday at St. Andrews, this is the one thing he’ll be sure to do the next time around.

 

In what became a humorous, internet-worthy image, Johnson left his caddy hanging for a high-five just moments after Louis Oosthuizen missed a birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole, giving Johnson a one-shot victory at the British Open for his second career major.  Johnson, who had previous won the 2007 Master’s Championship, later acknowledged his error and simply stated that he was in shock after realizing he had won the tournament.  Based on how the tournament unfolded, nobody can blame Johnson for his reaction.

 

In what became a star-studded final round leaderboard at the Open, Johnson played the most consistent round of any of the leaders on what ended up being a final round Monday due to weather delays.  On Monday, Johnson closed with a final round 66, including rolling home a 25-foot birdie on 18 to get into a three-way playoff with himself, Oosthuizen, and Marc Leishman at -15.

 

Australian Jason Day and two-time major winner Jordan Spieth both finished a shot back at -14.  Spieth put himself into position to potentially win or least be part of the playoff after making a birdie on the 16th hole.  However, he then bogeyed the 17th hole and his second shot on the par-4 18th spun off the green leaving him with a difficult 30-foot putt that he pushed to the right of the hole.  As disappointing as it was for Spieth not to be able to win his third consecutive major, the future is undoubtedly bright for the twenty-one year-old golfing sensation.

 

And so, with Day and Spieth coming up short that left Johnson, Leishman, and Oosthuizen to compete for golfing glory.  The playoff format at the British Open involves a four-hole playoff by playing holes 1, 2, 17, and 18 with the low aggregate score taking home the prize.  On the first playoff hole, both Johnson and Oosthuizen rolled in birdie putts with Leishman bogeying.  On the second hole, Leishman and Oosthuizen made par while Johnson sank a birdie putt giving him a one shot lead over Oosthuizen heading to the final two holes.

 

On 17, Johnson hit a wayward approach to the green and ended up two-putting for bogey.  However, neither Leishman or Oosthuizen could take advantage and they also both bogeyed the difficult hole.  It all came down to the 18th hole with Johnson having a one-shot lead over Oosthuizen and a three-shot advantage over Leishman.  On 18, all three golfers hit the fairway and Johnson played his second shot first to about 20 feet.  Oosthuizen and Leishman also hit good approach shots leaving Johnson with a 20-foot putt to win the tournament outright.  He would miss this putt but would tap in for par putting all the pressure on Oosthuizen who needed to make a birdie to force a sudden death playoff between him and Johnson.  However, Oosthuizen missed his putt and Johnson was left in shock with his hand over his face while his caddy offered up a high-give before eventually relenting and hugging the now two-time major winner.

 

Following the victory, an emotional Johnson offered up the following words on his experience in professional golf:

 

“I’ve come a long way since 2007 when I kind of launched my golf career.  What this does is really put things in perspective for me, more than it already has. I play golf for a living. I’m grateful for that. It’s a beautiful game, provides a great opportunity. I’m a product of great people. I’m just so happy.”

 

With the win, Johnson not only earned a cool $1.8 million but also moved up to #10 in the world golf rankings.  With young players like Spieth, Day, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, and Justin Rose all in the top-10, they are all names we should expect to hear come next month when the players head to Whistling Straits for the year’s final major, the PGA Championship.  They will be joined by consummate contenders Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Oosthuizen, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, and Henrik Stenson among others.  With only one major left before next year’s Master’s, expect the competition from August 13-16 to be another great battle for the ages.

 

And no matter who wins, they will be certain to acknowledge their caddy.