When Zach Johnson meets up to play with Zach J. Johnson
SAN FRANCISCO – Zach J. Johnson, the club pro from Salt Lake City, Utah, met golf’s “other” Zach Johnson – the two-time major championship winner – briefly when the two competed in the 100th PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis two years ago. They ran across each other in the locker room and were able to exchange pleasantries.
When ESPN decided to do a feature on the two and got them together on a Zoom call leading into this PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park, Zach Johnson the major champ told Utah’s Zach Johnson if they could work it out at TPC Harding Park, they should play a practice round together. On the range Wednesday, Tour Pro Zach found Club Pro Zach to tell him they had room in their group. Club Pro Zach was in.
What followed was nine holes that made for a great experience for both of the Johnsons in this week’s field. Zach J., who is seven years younger than the Tour’s Zach Johnson, tried to make it onto the PGA Tour but fell short at a few Q-Schools. He said he first took an interest in following Tour Pro Zach when he won the 2003 Envirocare Utah Classic while playing the Nationwide Tour.
“It’s pretty hard not to recognize a golfer with the same name as yours,” Zach J. said. On Wednesday, the two players went about their business for the first nine holes at Harding Park, exchanging small talk along the way. Zach the Tour Pro was quite helpful, and afterward pointed his younger namesake to the physio trailers to get a little work done on his body. It’s been cold in San Francisco, and the joints can get creaky.
“He’s just a very solid guy – very welcoming, very personable, and willing to help,” Zach J. said of the “other” Zach.
Zach J. Johnson had a decent showing in his first PGA Championship at Bellerive, shooting 69 on Friday, but he missed the cut. He believes this week, though TPC Harding Park is quite long, could bring better results, this being his second time. Without fans, the setting won’t be quite so intimidating. A lack of fans also will help to preserve his writing hand.
“At Bellerive, I wore my hand out signing autographs for people who wanted one from the real Zach Johnson,” Zach J. Johnson said. “I just signed them, smiled, and told each one, ‘Thank you.’ Not many of them knew we had two Zach Johnsons in the field.”