Johnson stays in striking distance
Zach Johnson once again sits comfortably at 10 under par after two rounds of the Sony Open in Hawaii.
His odds of hoisting a trophy on Sunday are just a tad better than they were at this point a year ago.
Instead of trailing the leader by seven shots, like he did as a close spectator of Justin Thomas’ record-breaking four-day run around Waialae Country Club in 2017, Johnson is within striking distance of Brian Harman, trailing by just three heading into the weekend at a place he has thrived at in his career.
Johnson, who shot a 67 after opening with a 7-under 63 on Thursday, is searching for his third consecutive top-10 at Waialae.
He has shot par or better in 10 consecutive trips around the course, and his 67 on Friday was his seventh 3-under round or better in that same period.
“I feel like my game’s in a position to make a move,” said Johnson, who is in a four-way tie for second. “I actually probably hit it better than I scored for the most part. Two errant shots today that cost me two bogeys.”
The first happened on his opening swing of the round when he drove the ball right of the fairway into a nasty spot in the rough on No. 10.
After consecutive birdies to get off the schneid, Johnson played from the right rough off the tee to the left rough on his third shot to settle for a second bogey on No. 16.
A steady diet of pars over the next eight holes ended with a 6-footer for birdie on the par-3 seventh.
Hole No. 9 kept Johnson on the top page of the leaderboard as he smoked — by his standard — a 313-yard drive into the fairway and then dropped in a 27-footer for eagle and a 67.
“That’s 20-something feet. You’re just trying to get it going on the right line. I’m fairly fortunate that it actually hit the hole, because I would have been at least 4, 5 feet past the hole,” Johnson said. “I didn’t necessarily hit all my lines today with my putter, but I putted really well yesterday, and I feel like my best putting is still in front of me.”
The two-time major winner, who owns 12 PGA wins on his résumé that includes more than $42 million in career winnings, needed to go 9 under over his final two rounds to claim his victory here nine years ago.
In his other eight trips around Waialae over the weekend, Johnson has put together consecutive rounds in the 60s only twice, including last year, when the tournament was already over before play started on Sunday.
With no sign of the favorable weather conditions changing over the weekend, it’ll likely take a similar performance to catch Harman, who is arguably the hottest player on tour, with top-10 performances in all five of his events — and four topfive finishes — so far this season.
“My mind-set is going to still be pretty aggressive,” said Johnson, who is looking for his first win since the 2015 Open Championship. “You’ve still got to put a number up here at Waialae because guys are so good and I think slightly widening the fairways and the greens holding, you’ve got to be aggressive. If we have wind like this today, which was essentially minimal, you’ve got to keep the pedal down.”
Zach Johnson watched his tee shot on the first hole.