Sports

Zach Johnson stuck in neutral in first round of Masters

Cedar Rapids native shoots 2-over 74

Zach Johnson during a tournament in January. (Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports)
Zach Johnson during a tournament in January. (Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports)

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Zach Johnson shot a 2-over 74 Thursday at Augusta National in the first round of The Masters.

The 2007 champion had a hard time getting out of neutral on a course that yielded plenty of low numbers, including two 66s by leaders Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau.

Johnson had one word that best summed up his day.

“Frustrated,” Johnson said.

“I’m frustrated in the sense that my game is in a position to put up good numbers right now.”

But the Drake grad is seeing a silver lining, too.

“But I’m also encouraged that it could have been probably a little bit worse. I made some good putts to some degree.”

One of those was a 5-footer on 18 to cap an impressive up-and-down from the front-right bunker.

Johnson sits eight shots back and chooses a positive outlook for Friday’s round.

“I’m excited about (Friday), that’s where I’m at right now,” Johnson said.

“I feel like I’m driving it really well. That’s obviously imperative out here. I keep getting the ball in the fairway and if I give myself some opportunities, I might be able to put up a number up.”

What kind of number are we talking about?

“I don’t know where the pins are, I don’t know what the wind’s going to do. There’s saturation from the rain,” Johnson said. “It’s condition-based at that point. An even-par could be a great round but so could 6-under.

“It’s going to be based on a number I can’t really forecast.”

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The cut after all is top 50 and ties or those within 10 shots of the lead after 36 holes. Johnson stands tied for 58th at the moment.

“If it’s similar to today, greens will start to firm up,” Johnson said.

“But it’s supposed to rain through some of the morning, so if that’s the case, then you’ve got to be a little more aggressive.”

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