LAHAINA, Hawaii – Zach Johnson is taking his place among the big boys in golf with two of the shortest clubs in his bag.
On a Plantation Course at Kapalua that should be paradise for the game’s longest hitters, Johnson chipped in for his opening birdie and then hit four exquisite wedge shots on the back nine Monday to rally from two shots behind, close with a 7-under-par 66 and win the Tournament of Champions.
“I just picked it apart,” said Johnson, who finished at 19-under 273 and earned $1.14 million for the victory.
Johnson ran off four birdies in a five-hole stretch, all of them with a wedge in his hand, none of the shots particularly easy. The 37-year-old wound up with a one-shot victory over 20-year-old Jordan Spieth (69).
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Ryan Moore (69) of Puyallup finished 10th and made $170,000.
Kapalua was mainly about chipping and putting, and Johnson is among the best.
“Getting the ball in the fairway and giving my wedges a chance was crucial,” he said.
“It’s about plotting my way, putting myself in a yardage spot that I know is going to give me an opportunity.”
Johnson, in his 11th season on the PGA Tour, won for the 11th time in his career. Since his rookie season in 2004, only Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh have won more on the PGA Tour. It was Johnson’s third victory in his last six starts.
Spieth had a one-shot lead going to the back nine and had birdies on the 17th and 18th holes.
“I was very pleased with the finish, being able to birdie the last two holes and at least have somewhat of a chance on 18,” said Spieth, who had a 100-foot eagle putt just off the front of the green to force a playoff.