Zach Johnson reveals how first Ryder Cup helped in 2007 Masters win, dishes on Tiger and more in Golf Digest piece
Zach Johnson is now a 12-time PGA Tour winner, a five-time Ryder Cupper and has two major titles: the 2007 Masters and the 2015 Open Championship.
With his win at the '15 Open, Johnson joined Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Sam Snead, Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo as the only players to win the Masters and an Open on the Old Course at St. Andrews.
In a "My Shot" column with Golf Digest, Johnson revealed that if it weren't for an experience at the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club in Ireland, he may not have been equipped enough to win the Masters months later.
MY WIN AT THE 2007 MASTERS only happened because of an incident at the Ryder Cup seven months earlier. My first match at the K Club in Ireland was the alternate shot on Friday afternoon. Chad Campbell was my partner, and we were 2 down against Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley playing the par-5 16th hole. Chad hit a good drive that left me 250 yards to the hole and 235 to clear water.
My lie is good, but the wind is up, and even with a 3-wood, it’s at the outside of my distance limit. As we’re discussing what to do, up drives our captain, Tom Lehman. “What’s the problem?” he says. I say, “Well, I can get there, but I have to hit it perfect.” Tom asks, in an obligatory way, “What’s the scoreboard say?” I say, “We’re 2 down.” Tom says, “Is there even a question?” I went for it, of course, hit it to 15 feet, we won that hole and wound up halving the match. That 3-wood shot proved to me that I could execute under duress. Ever since, I’ve craved having the ball in my hands at the end. It’s that assurance that won me the Masters.
Another interesting Ryder Cup tidbit that came out of the "My Shot" piece involved Tiger Woods.
Woods has had a less-than-stellar record at the Ryder Cup, surprising since he was so dominant in match play as an amateur.
Over the years, it was suggested that perhaps the reason for Tiger's lackluster Ryder Cup record could simply be chalked up to a lack of interest.
Don't try selling that argument to Johnson.
Here's what Johnson had to say about Tiger and the Ryder Cup:
BECAUSE TIGER WOODS’ RECORD in the Ryder Cup doesn’t align with his individual record, there’s a suspicion he hasn’t been very invested. I can’t tell you how wrong that is. In every Ryder Cup I’ve been a part of, Tiger as a player knows he’s playing 90 holes and is first in bed every night. In 2016, when he was a vice-captain, we had numerous two-hour phone conversations months in advance, talking about possible weather conditions, potential player combinations, even things like who the captains should walk with. I’m not the only guy he did this with. Zero ego. He’s had an amazingly long run and has been on board at the beginning, middle and end.
Safe to say Johnson would know a lot better than the rest of us.
Lastly, there was this about Ryder Cup USA nemesis, Ian Poulter:
By far our most painful Ryder Cup loss was 2012 at Medinah. Remember on Saturday, when Ian Poulter birdied the last five holes, and he and Rory McIlroy beat Jason Dufner and me, 1 up? When Ian’s putt for birdie on the last hole fell and he let out that scream, I hated that. I’ve let out a scream or two myself, but the sight of him carrying on like that galled me to no end. I stewed about it for hours. Days. Make that years.
Just great stuff from Johnson.