An otherwise disappointing season took a positive turn for Zach Johnson Sunday in the Valero Texas Open.
Winless since May of 2007 in the AT&T Classic, Johnson shot a 6-under-par 64 at La Cantera Golf Club to record a two-stroke victory in the PGA Tour Fall Series event. The former Masters champion, powered by his third-round 62, finished at 19-under 261 to earn the $810,000 first-place check.
Arriving at San Antonio with just one top-10 finish in 21 events played in 2008, Johnson admitted he didn't expect to win the tournament.
"I had two things in my mind this week as far as going into the week and one was no expectations," Johnson told reporters. "So, no, I did not expect to be here, but I guess that's a good thing."
Johnson got things going in his final round as he neared the turn. Consecutive birdies at holes 6, 7 and 8 and another at 10 gave the native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the lead. He added a birdie at No. 14 and finished in style by holing a five-foot birdie putt at No. 18 to pull two shots clear of the field.
For Johnson, it marked his first victory on the PGA Tour outside the state of Georgia. In addition to the Masters, he won the 2004 BellSouth Classic and 2007 AT&T Classic.
Johnson said putting has been a major source of frustration for him this year. Even after his victory Sunday, he's tied for No. 112 in putting on the PGA Tour.
"My putting, I kind of I guess I take for granted," Johnson said. "I've always been a pretty good putter — statistically always been decent, and I've always felt pretty confident — but for some reason, early on this year, it kind of left me.
"I don't want to say I tried doing different things, because that's not accurate, but when it weighs on you, it kind of affects every part of your game. (If) one part is lacking, and one part is very frustrating, it can be frustrating all around."
During the nearly two months he had off because he didn't make the field for the FedEx Cup playoffs, Johnson said he was determined to work hard on improving his game.
"I made the commitment to go back to what I used to do, the way I'm supposed to do it with ball-striking and putting," Johnson said. "I didn't anticipate hitting me this quick, but it certainly helped.
"Given that, I still see a lot of room for improvement, which I guess is even more encouraging than anything else."
Charlie Wi, who matched Steve Elkington for the round of the day with a 61, tied for second with Mark Wilson (63) and Tim Wilkinson (64) for second at 17-under 263.
"I was pretty far back starting today, so I knew that I needed to make some birdies out there," Wi told reporters. "I just kept pressing myself to make more birdies and more birdies, and this is why we practice so hard, to be in contention, and it was a lot of fun out there."
Jeff Overton (65) ended fifth at 15-under 265. Stephen Ames (62) and Chris Stroud (68) tied for sixth at 13-under 267. Third-round leader Rory Sabbatini faded with a 2-over 72 to finish tied for eighth with Tim Herron (69) and Pat Perez (65) at 12-under 268.
Defending champion Justin Leonard shot 64-66 on the weekend to tie for 11th place at 11-under 269. Leonard was bidding for his fourth Texas Open title, which would break the record he shares with Arnold Palmer.
October 13, 2008
Davis Love III, who played the final 57 holes of the Children's Miracle Network Classic without a bogey, finished at 25-under 263 in the season-ending event played at the Walt Disney World Golf Resort in Florida. It has been a long road back for Love, who severely sprained his ankle late last year. After tearing ligaments, he needed surgery, and he's spent much of this year rehabilitating the injury.
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