ST. LOUIS — One of the cool stories of the week was the tale of the two Zach Johnsons. There was Zach Johnson, the PGA Tour pro who owns a Masters green jacket and a British Open Claret Jug and the Zach Johnson who’s a club pro from Utah who qualified into the field for the PGA Championship.
Two weeks ago, PGA officials informed Zach Johnson the club pro that he would be referred to at the tournament for pairings purposes as Zach J. Johnson, using his middle initial.
Zach J. Johnson will miss the projected cut, finishing 5-over with an expected cut of even-par, but he shot 69 Friday to better Zach Johnson, the Masters and British Open winner, who shot 70, but is 4-under for the week.
“The memories are countless,” Zach J. Johnson said. “Just that walk up 18 was … my caddie and I just kind of put our arms around each other and soaked it all in. We don’t get to do this every day, so it was pretty emotional to walk up 18. Hopefully, we can get back out here.”
Zach J. Johnson, who had never even attended a PGA Championship before this week, said of the PGA Tour’s Zach Johnson: “He’s been great every time we ran into each other. [On Thursday] in the locker room after he shot 66 and I shot 76, I said, ‘Tomorrow, give me five a side and we’ll have a game.’ He was just so awesome. It’s very cool.”
Zach J. Johnson said he actually has received some of Zach Johnson’s mail by accident, including one letter that pertained to PGA Tour board business.
He said the week “surpassed expectations,” adding, “I have some good friends who have played in years past and they kind of gave me a heads up as to what it was like, but it’s one of those things you can’t describe. You can’t really prepare for it.”
Asked what the “J” stands for, Johnson said: “The ‘J’ doesn’t stand for anything. That’s just my middle initial. When my parents had to turn in the birth certificate, they were going to give me a ‘J.’ It was a middle name that started with ‘J.’ They didn’t know what it was going to be, but after they turned in the birth certificate, it just stuck. They never replaced it. It’s Zachary J. Johnson.”
The two local club pros from the Metropolitan Area — Matt Dobyns from Fresh Meadow Country Club and Danny Balin from Westchester Country Club — weren’t going to be playing the final two rounds. Both finished 7-over for two days. For both players, this week was their fifth major championship, and neither has made a cut yet.
Dobyns, who followed his opening-round 76 with an impressive 71 Friday, said, “I made plenty of birdies over the two days . The big numbers killed me.”
Balin, who shot an encouraging 72 on Thursday and likely would have needed a 68 to make the cut, shot 75 Friday.
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