Zach Johnson Zach Johnson stays hot, shares lead in Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

While it's difficult for most golfers to imagine such a thing as a "boring" 62, that's exactly how Zach Johnson described his opening-round performance in the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Coming off his victory in last weekend's Valero Texas Open, Johnson carded a ho-hum round of 10-under-par 62 Thursday at TPC at Summerlin in Las Vegas. The former Masters champion is tied for the lead with Marc Turnesa heading into Friday's second with four golfers one stroke behind.

When pressed about his "boring" description, Johnson clarified.

"I feel boring golf is one where you hit the ball on the fairway, hit the ball on the green and give yourself a chance at birdie," Johnson told reporters. "So, it was boring as far as that goes. I hit a lot fairways."

Johnson wasn't the only player having his way with the golf course in near-perfect conditions. A total of 116 players out of the 132-man field posted par-or-better scores during the opening round.

Johnson and Turnesa's bogey-free 62s and Michael Allen's mistake-free 63 accounted for three of nine bogey-free rounds on Thursday. How easy was it for the PGA Tour players competing in the Fall Series event?

"It kind of feels like you're playing in a dome," Johnson said. "You throw some grass, it might fall to your left foot instead of your right foot. It's pretty benign."

The 62 posted by Johnson and Turnesa fell just one stroke shy of the course record set by Davis Love III in 2001. It was Johnson's second 62 in his last three rounds as he recorded a third-round 62 last Saturday on his way to a two-stroke victory in the Valero Texas Open.

Thursday's impressive round represents just the second first-round lead of Johnson's PGA Tour career. He posted a 64 during the opening round of the 2006 John Deere Classic on his way to a tie for 33rd.

"I think it's just the confidence - confidence in that my fundamentals are going the right direction, and confidence in my execution has been good, especially down the stretch," Johnson said. "Today's Thursday. Let's just take it at that. I still got three more days of golf."

While Johnson said he's been working on some changes for several weeks, he admitted that things didn't really start to fall into place until last Saturday in San Antonio.

"That's when it really started to click, based on the fundamental changes that I implemented in those six weeks prior to San Antonio," Johnson said. "I just started to get more and more comfortable.

"Visually, over the putter, it felt good, and seeing my line was more prevalent."

Turnesa easily eclipsed his previous best score on the PGA Tour of 65 set during the third round of the Wyndham Championship and the first round of the Viking Classic (his only previous first-round lead). His previous best round in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event was a second-round 63 on his way to winning the 2008 Miccosukee Championship on the Nationwide Tour.

"I just need to keep making birdies, really," Turnesa told reporters. "This week is going to be all about putting, and, obviously, I putted great today."

Turnesa and Johnson have a one-stroke lead over Nick Watney, Ken Duke, Matt Kuchar and Allen, who all shot 9-under 63. Chez Reavie, Kevin Na, John Mallinger and Nick Flanagan are all tied for seventh at 8-under 64.

Defending champion George McNeill opened with a 5-under 67 in his attempt to join Jim Furyk (1998-99) as the only players to successfully defend a title in this tournament.

Johnson is seeking to become just the second player this season to win in back-to-back weeks - Vijay Singh performed the feat with wins at The Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship - and he said he wouldn't mind if his game continued to lack a certain flair.

"I'll take boring for three more days," Johnson said.

October 17, 2008

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