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AUGUSTA, Ga. — Zach Johnson enters this special week with some perspective on the course that makes sense after playing it in 17 previous Masters before this week.
“The golf course is as predictable as you could ask for, and I mean that in a good one,” Johnson said. “You know what you will get with the golf course and that’s a helpful thing as a competitor.”
One of many nuances that Augusta National is known for is its very undulating greens. Johnson knows how difficult they can be to adapt to when pretty much all other greens on the PGA Tour don’t possess anywhere near this amount of break.
Does this lead to a different type of putting preparation than most weeks for Johnson and his veteran caddie Brian Smith?
“We keep it pretty simple when we practiced there,” Johnson said. “I had arguably the best putting year of my career last year as far as the whole year goes, consistently the best aspect of my game was certainly my putting. I was top 10 in strokes gained for the year, so that was good. And that helps of course.”
But these greens are so different from what Johnson and others see week in and week out.
“I don’t add clutter (the week of the Masters), I keep it really simple,” Johnson said of his putting prep. “I’m a very athletic putter, I feel it with my feel, I see my start line, every putt’s straight, it’s just a matter of where I set up. So I won’t deviate away from that.”
While Johnson seems to have a good grasp of his goals on the putting greens at Augusta, what about the long game?
“At Augusta National you’ve got to hit the fairway but you also need to keep the ball below the hole on the next shot,” Johnson said. “If you want to be aggressive to make birdies and easy pars, you need to be below the hole.
“Obviously that’s the goal, you want to stay below the hole for opportunities. You can do it, if you’re on, ... because you know where to go.”
Though he’s shorter off the tee than many in the field this week, Johnson certainly knows where to go out there and how to navigate the greens.