KAPALUA, Hawaii — Zach Johnson wants to avoid three-putts and score better on the par 5s. He did neither Saturday at Kapalua, and still built a three-shot lead.
Johnson relied on great wedge play and a few timely putts for a 7-under 66 to take the lead after two rounds of the Tournament of Champions. Defending champion Dustin Johnson (66), Matt Kuchar (68) and Jordan Spieth (70) were tied for second as the winners-only tournament started to show some separation.
Zach Johnson was at 13-under 133.
He failed to birdie any of the par 5s, and he three-putted one of them at No. 5 after hitting 5-iron into the back of the green. None of that mattered the way Johnson was feeding wedges into the right spots of the green to set up birdie chances. He ran off four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the front nine, and a few good chips kept him from getting seriously close to a bogey.
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Dustin Johnson approaches the Plantation Course differently. He birdied all the par 5s with his length, but fell back with a pair of bogeys on the back nine when he missed short putts. Even so, he was in good position heading into the final two rounds of a tournament that ends Monday.
“This golf course sets up well for me,” Dustin Johnson said. “I can reach all the par 5s, and there’s a few short holes where you can drive it up close to the green. So if I chip it and putt it well, I’m going to shoot a good score pretty much every time.”
So what does Zach Johnson make of that outlook?
“I would say I’m up by three gross, and by eight or nine net, based on that rationale,” he said.
Clearly, there’s more than one way to get around a course built on a side of the mountain on Maui.
Webb Simpson and Michael Thompson, part of a four-way tie for the lead after the opening round, each had a 71 and were four shots behind.
Puyallup’s Ryan Moore was five shots back after a 71 left him at 8 under.
Masters champion Adam Scott, who can get within range of No. 1 in the world depending on his two weeks in Hawaii, had a 70 and was seven shots behind. The Australian was in dire need of a low round to at least have a chance going into Monday.