Lytham St Annes – Former U.S. Masters champion Zach Johnson is renowned as one of the best putters in golf and he wielded his magic wand to revive his British Open challenge in the third round on Saturday.
The American showed fortitude to bounce back from his second-round 74, squeezing six birdies into a four-under 66 to finish with a five-under aggregate of 205 on what he described as an almost “eerie” day of warm weather on the Lancashire coast.
Johnson sank a succession of long-range putts, most notably at the eighth where a 30-foot effort disappeared into the cup.
“You've got to make a few 15 to 30-footers,” he told reporters. “I'm hitting a lot of greens and that's what I've got to continue to do.
“If I can keep hitting greens, making an occasional long putt drop, you never know what can happen.”
Johnson, who won the Masters in 2007, said his driving was the best it had been all year.
“I don't think I missed a fairway,” said the 36-year-old who has never finished better than 16th in eight previous Open appearances.
“Whether it was a three-wood, a five-wood, three-iron or driver, I just hit fairways. That makes this course so much easier, avoiding those pot bunkers.”
Johnson said the winds were the calmest he had ever experienced at the third major of the season.
“I've never seen three days like this in the Open,” he added. “I was talking to playing partner Thomas Bjorn about it, he's played a few more than I have.
“He recalls one other week where it was kind of like this. This is not eerie but it's just not what you expect at the Open.”
Johnson finished with a flourish at the 18th, earning resounding cheers from the galleries after drilling a seven-iron close to the flag and holing his putt.
“I don't think I could play any more aggressive than I did today,” he said. “I knew if I was going to get back in this tournament I had to make a move of some sort.
“I figured there were some tough pins, some hole placements on some knobs, and I managed to put myself in good positions to make some putts and fortunately I made a few.” – Reuters