Sports

Zach Johnson 9 shots back of Masters lead, remains upbeat

Zach Johnson chips to the 10th green during the second round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on Friday, April 6, 2018, in Augusta, Ga. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)
Zach Johnson chips to the 10th green during the second round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on Friday, April 6, 2018, in Augusta, Ga. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Zach Johnson stands nine shots behind leader Patrick Reed after two rounds at The Masters.

The 42-year-old followed up his opening round 2-under 70 with an up and down 2-over 74 Friday in breezy and dry conditions.

Johnson entered the the day only four shots behind first-round leader Jordan Spieth, but struggled to get any momentum going.

“It was hard, I thought as the day went on it was harder and harder,” Johnson said of the course conditions. “The greens just weren’t as receptive as yesterday. It was very difficult to putt with the wind because the greens were starting to get dried out.

“But it’s what you would expect on Friday at Augusta in the afternoon with wind.”

Johnson told The Gazette last month that he thinks the greens gradually get firmer and less receptive as the tournament goes along.

But there is a caveat in the current situation here at The Masters: rain.

Rain is expected Saturday for much of the morning and early afternoon.


That may mean receptive greens, which might be good for Johnson to gain ground, but it could also allow Reed to create even more of a cushion.

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Either way, Johnson was patient during Friday’s second round, but he just didn’t manage to convert enough birdie opportunities.

“My goal to start the round was just to keep doing what I was doing, keep the golf course in front of me and wait for my stretches,” Johnson said. “I hit some really good stretches on the back side but I just didn’t get rewarded.”

Johnson always stresses the importance of making birdies on Augusta National’s par 5s, and on the back nine that just didn’t happen Friday.

“I didn’t birdie 13 or 15, obviously I went for those two in two, and just didn’t make birdie so that was unfortunate,” Johnson said.

Johnson hit a big speed-bump toward the end of his round Friday as well.

“My three-putt on 17 was just costly,” Johnson said. “It was a 25-footer, and it was just not a good way to end the day. I made a nice six-footer on 18 to end so that’s kind of what I’m clinging to right now.”

Johnson plans to go out Saturday and hang in there as best he can. As a former champ he seems to have an upbeat mentality about a nine-shot deficit.

“I’ve still got to go out and compete and play hard,” Johnson said. “If I strike fire, then you never know. I feel like my game’s in a position where I can do that.”

Johnson appreciates the abilities of his Ryder Cup teammate Reed and sees a lot of strength in his style of play.

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“He’s got guts, he’s an aggressive yet efficient player,” Johnson said. “There’s no surprise whatsoever (that he is leading).”

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