Zach Johnson wins BMW Championship
BY HERB GOULD Staff Reporter September 16, 2013 1:52PM
Updated: September 16, 2013 10:41PM
Going in, the focus always seems to be on home-run hitters, especially on a relatively short course like Conway Farms in Lake Forest.
But when all was said and done, there was singles-hitter Zach Johnson — who’s 158th in driving distance this season, at 278.4 yards — hoisting the trophy at the rain-delayed BMW Championship on Monday.
‘‘I don’t know any other style,’’ said Johnson, who never tried to reach the green in two shots on any par-5 hole when he won the 2007 Masters. ‘‘I don’t think this course favors the long hitters. Saying that, we’ve seen guys that are modest like myself win at big golf courses. It’s not like it can’t be done.’’
Johnson shot a final-round, 6-under-par 65 to finish the tournament at 16-under, two shots ahead of Nick Watney (64) and three shots ahead of third-round leader Jim Furyk (71), who was attempting to snap a victory drought that goes back three years.
‘‘A great week, a phenomenal day,’’ Johnson said. ‘‘One of the best final rounds I have come up with in a while, especially coming down the stretch.’’
Johnson sealed the deal with birdies on No. 16, an uphill par-four, and No. 17, a downhill par-three, which were the third and fifth most difficult holes this week.
‘‘On No. 16, he hit 4-iron, 184 yards into the wind, the purest shot he hit all day,’’ Johnson’s longtime caddie, Damon Green, said. ‘‘On No. 17, it was 205, a 6-iron. He took it right at it, then he made that putt. That was ridiculous.’’
After that double-breaker putt went in, Johnson’s playing partner and good friend, Brandt Snedeker, gave him a little fist-bump.
‘‘I was pulling hard for him,’’ said Snedeker, who shot 72 to tie for eighth. ‘‘When you see a guy play that well, you want him to do well. Zach’s a great guy, one of the most well-liked guys out here. To see him play well on a day like this was a lot of fun.’’
The victory moved Johnson, who was 27th in the FedEx Cup standings, all the way up to No. 4 heading into the Tour Championship, which begins Thursday in Atlanta.
Tiger Woods, who was second in the standings coming to the BMW, moved up to No. 1 because Henrik Stenson, who’s now No. 2, was shooting a final-round 74 that was so frustrating he broke the head off his driver on the 18th hole after using it to take a drop. Stenson finished 1-under, tied for 33rd.
Woods, who shot a final-round 71 and finished 9-under, was not happy, either, mainly because of sub-standard putting.
‘‘I think I had somewhere in the neighborhood of five to seven three-putts this week,’’ said Woods, who was four shots back going into the final round. ‘‘It was not a very good putting week. Quit eliminating the simple mistakes on the greens, and I would have been right there. I just didn’t have it.’’
Furyk also left Conway thinking his putter was the reason he was unable to win for the first time since the 2010 Tour Championship.
He will take away the ‘‘Mr. 59’’ title after tying the PGA record for low round on Friday.
‘‘After finishing third, it doesn’t mean that much right this second,’’ Furyk said. ‘‘When I’m retired, it’ll be one of the probably three highlights of my career.’’
Johnson also leaves Conway with a highlight, because he was able to seize the moment in a field of top golfers who were trying to do the same thing.
‘‘He’s got a lot of guts,’’ Green said of Johnson. ‘‘He’s not afraid to win. When they get in this situation, a lot of guys might back up. He wants to keep going, pedal to the metal.’’