Zach attacks Open for victory

Aug 26 2013 - 3:49pm

Images

Steve Smith/Special to the Standard Examiner
: Zach Johnson eyes his putt Sunday at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington during the 2013 Utah Open.
Steve Smith/Special to the Standard Examiner
The Utah Open leaderboard shows the success Johnson enjoyed with his winning rally on the back nine holes.
Steve Smith/Special to the Standard Examiner
Second-round leader Joe Parkinson tees off Sunday at the 2013 Utah Open at the Oakridge Country Club Farmington.
Steve Smith/Special to the Standard Examiner
: Zach Johnson eyes his putt Sunday at Oakridge Country Club in Farmington during the 2013 Utah Open.
Steve Smith/Special to the Standard Examiner
The Utah Open leaderboard shows the success Johnson enjoyed with his winning rally on the back nine holes.
Steve Smith/Special to the Standard Examiner
Second-round leader Joe Parkinson tees off Sunday at the 2013 Utah Open at the Oakridge Country Club Farmington.

FARMINGTON -- More than an hour after the fact, Charlie Johnson still had goosebumps.

It was that kind of a shot, that kind of a day, that kind of a rallying cry.

Charlie, brother and caddy to 2013 Siegfried & Jensen Utah Open winner Zach Johnson, was impressed by the lengthy approach shot Zach hit to help with the tournament Sunday afternoon at Oakridge Country Club. But it was the preceding speech that left an even greater impact.

"I've still got goosebumps," Charlie said.

Trailing by three strokes with three holes left to play, Zach Johnson mounted a spirited comeback after an afternoon weather delay. His success partly hinged on a 250-yard hybrid he hit from the rough on the par-5 16th hole, a shot that not only found the green but settled about 15 feet from the hole.

Knowing full well he needed to execute something special, Zach turned to his brother/caddy and said, "We're not here to take second."

Prophetic words indeed.

Johnson eagled No. 16 to draw within a shot of then-leader Jesse Mueller, a professional out of Mesa, Ariz. In the ensuing moments, Mueller bogeyed holes No. 17 and 18, giving Johnson just enough room to come away with the title and giant-sized check for $21,000, plus a bonus of $750 as the top Utah Section PGA professional.

Although he caught a break to help win it, Johnson earned the top prize.

The spectacular shot and ensuing putt were critical, so too was the work Johnson and longtime friend Boyd Summerhays put in on the practice range late Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

Johnson credited Summerhays, a former Utah Open champ, with helping him make a few refinements prior to the final round.

Johnson said he and Summerhays practiced in the dark Saturday night at Oakrdige then met up Sunday morning at Davis Park for a little more work.

"We came over here and trusted what we were working on and went with it," he said.

Johnson, 30, is a Farmington resident and an assistant pro at Davis.

Sunday's win was his first at the Utah Open and he said it was particularly special because it happened at Oakridge.

After seven consecutive years in Davis County, the Utah Open is on the move for next year, headed to Provo's Riverside Country Club.

The tournament is expected to return to Oakridge in the future -- its unprecedented success there virtually guarantees it -- but not for at least another three years.

While standing on the practice green outside clubhouse, Johnson addressed the crowd that had gathered to watch the trophy presentation.

"I'm not going to lie," he said. "I wish it was back here next year."

Understandably, Oakridge will forever occupy a special place in Johnson's heart.

After shooting rounds of 67 and 66, the Salt Lake City native and former Souther Utah collegiate carved out a 4-under 68 on Sunday. He played smoothly at times, handled the pressure like a champ and, yes, got a lucky break thanks to Mueller's late struggles.

"A couple bad swings cost me," Mueller said.

Playing in the final threesome of the day, Mueller led by three shots after 15 holes. But Johnson, who was playing one group ahead, eagled No. 16 to draw within a single shot.

Mueller carded a par on 16, then bogeyed the final two holes. Needing a par on No. 18 to force a playoff, he sealed his fate by missing a pesky 6-foot putt.

Moments earlier, Johnson had a similar putt for a birdie on the final hole but he, like Mueller, saw it slide away.

Johnson later said he thought that missed putt cost him the tournament.

"It's unbelievable," he said. "I've been close a couple of times. To it, it still really hasn't sunk in. I've got goosebumps still."

There's that word again: goosebumps.

* TOURNAMENT NOTES: Second-round leader Joe Parkinson shot a 74, and finished at 206, making him the low amateur in the event. Ogden's Zac Blair and Jordan Rogers were a shot back at 207. ...

Mark Owen was one of two golfers to go 7-under for the day on Sunday. Nick Travers was the other. Owen ended up tied for 12th overall at 10-under par. ...

Former Weber State standout Mike Malaska was the low senior at 214 overall.

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