116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
SAN FRANCISCO - Zach Johnson won his first match Wednesday over Branden Grace at the World Golf Championship-Cadillac Match Play at TPC Harding Park.
After falling behind early, Johnson squared the match in dramatic fashion with an eagle from the fairway at the par-4 sixth.
'At that point I kind of needed it,” Johnson said. 'I needed some momentum for the match. I don't think I ever went down after that so it was a good one.”
Johnson drained the 115-yard shot with his trusty pitching wedge.
'It landed two or three paces short and obviously for it to fall in was luck,” Johnson said. 'I hit a good shot.”
Grace smiled and told Johnson 'great shot.”
Good sportsmanship and compliments highlighted the day for both players. When Grace hit the green on the par-5 first in two Johnson said 'Nice shot.”
They made the turn with Johnson 1-up and both showed spectacular shot-making on the back nine.
Grace squared the match through 13 holes, then Johnson hit a marvelous approach from 152 yards to 7 feet on the spectacular lakeside 14th and made birdie to take a 1-up lead.
'Neither one of us wanted to really close it out, but it was clutch play, too,” Johnson said. 'The last five holes I really didn't miss a shot and I still had to play the 18th hole but that's what you expect.”
Grace matched Johnson's crisp play shot for shot.
On the drivable par-4 16th, Johnson' lob wedge from 83 yards curled to a foot away. But Grace also birdied with a 10-foot putt. They headed to the par-3 17th with Johnson's lead still 1-up.
After both players hit their tee shots into difficult positions, they walked stride for stride off the tee box laughing as Johnson told a story from his 2009 Presidents Cup experience.
'I told him I was on the tee box and I see this guy puffing a cigar behind me and it's Michael Jordan,” Johnson said afterward. 'That kind of got my nerves going.”
The two didn't look the least bit nervous in one of the most prestigious events on Tour. Both players hit their shots to 4 feet and Grace suggested they each concede the putts.
Johnson won the match 2-up when Grace missed his birdie putt on the 18th.
'It doesn't matter who you play in this event, I've played really good golf and lost and I've played ok golf and won,” Johnson said. 'You've got to take a win when you get one.”
Johnson plays Charlie Hoffman today as pool play continues Thursday and Friday.