“You can say it’s my fifth major,” said Johnson, a native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who attended Drake University. “I’m excited. I love it.”
“I’ve got so many attachments to this tournament,” he said. “This was my second PGA start ever. And then I have so many friends here and knowing the ins and outs as to what this tournament does and why it does what it does, specifically the charitable aspect and the people they’re helping in this community and the communities of eastern Iowa, western Illinois. I mean I know that’s the core of this tournament.”
As much as Johnson enjoys and desires to win this tournament, his track record has been spotty. Aside from a runner-up finish to Steve Stricker in 2009, Johnson has not placed inside the top 10.
Johnson does not believe his lack of success is a result of his trying too hard.
“I think at one time I did, specifically my first few years here,” he said. “But not anymore. I haven’t played well here, with the exception of maybe one week. I just gotta let it happen.”
“You have got to have some good kicks, couple lip-ins instead of lip-outs, and those sort of gratuitous bounces and rolls to win. So I’m not going to try to get too ahead of myself. I don’t have any expectations this week.”
Johnson is fully aware of what he can do on the course, so he needs to quit pressing. Other than a three-week stretch in May in which he finished T6 at the Wells Fargo Championship, T12 at The Players and fourth at the Crowne Plaza Invitational, Johnson’s results have been mediocre. In his 13 other starts, he has not finished better than 20th.
Johnson is not about to start gnashing his teeth, though. He is aware that results can easily turn around. And no time would be better than the present—at home in Johnson’s personal major.
Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.