Open champion Zach Johnson: My wife is my CEO

Publish Date : 2021-04-02


Open champion Zach Johnson: My wife is my CEO

In the golfing world, winning the Masters at Augusta or the Open Championship at St. Andrews is as good as it gets.

Johnson is one of just six players to win at both venues, and he is quick to acknowledge the two 'rocks' that made it possible: his faith as a Christian, and his wife Kim.

'There's a lot of individuals behind the scenes that get you there, but Kim is the head of that. She's the one that I go to first for anything. She's the self-acclaimed CEO of Zach Johnson Golf,' the American told CNN Wednesday, reflecting on the playoff victory at Scotland's 'home of golf' that took his career earnings past $37 million.



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'She has that title and evidently there's no shelf-life for that. I'm grateful for that.'

They met in Florida 15 years ago, and he switched from lapsed Catholic to enthusiastic member of her First Baptist Church before they married in 2003.

Kim helps run his charity foundation, and greeted him with a kiss after Monday's success in the weather-hit major.

'She's my rock -- she's the one that I can trust with anything,' Johnson said. 'Good or bad, it doesn't matter what the situation is, she's always there.

'She's very level-minded, always got great perspective, and she sits me in my place and keeps me properly focused and allows me to do what I do.'

Johnson's rebuilt faith is also a key factor in his serial success on tour: he has won more than $1.5 million every season since 2004, with 10 PGA Tour titles outside his two majors.

Throughout a difficult five days at St. Andrews, where the players were often battling the elements as much as themselves, the 39-year-old kept his composure by reciting his favorite scriptures.

He said Psalm 27:14 ('Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart') was going through his mind as the tournament came to a climax -- an ending he describes as 'such a blur.'

'I'm a Christian guy and when it comes to my priorities, it's the utmost. For me, just to calm myself down, to keep my perspective when I'm playing, to not make too big a deal of it ... that's where I go to,' he said.

'The peace that comes with that allows me to play free golf.'

Johnson left the UK with a new toy for his three children -- the Open's coveted Claret Jug.

'It doesn't really have the attributes of a sippy cup for my little ones, but much like a birthday cake, if they want to make it a mess, that's fine,' joked the Iowa native, now resident in St. Simons Island, Georgia.

Johnson's victory denied golf's rising star Jordan Spieth the chance to become just the second player of the post-war era to win the Masters, U.S. and British Opens in the same season.

Spieth missed out on the three-man playoff after failing to birdie the final hole, but Johnson warned about putting too much pressure on the 21-year-old as he deflected comparisons with Tiger Woods at the same age.

'I don't think it's fair to put Jordan in that breath yet. Clearly what he's done in a short time is remarkable, is worthy of discussion and could be part of golf history more than we possibly know, but Tiger really transcended the game,' Johnson said.

'He was the guy who pushed the ceiling higher than it's ever been. I don't know if Jordan is going to have that capacity but with what we're witnessing, you never know. You're talking about two guys in the last 15-20 years that I would say are phenom talents.

'I'm not saying by the shots they hit necessarily, though that is impressive, but it's the intangibles -- the innate ability they have internally that you just don't see in athletes that often.'

Johnson's victory lifted him to 12th in the world rankings, and the top 10 now features five Americans, with Spieth at No. 2.

Johnson believes young U.S. players are better prepared than ever to make an impact when they turn pro -- such as 21-year-old Jordan Niebrugge, who tied for sixth at St. Andrews to be the leading amateur.

'These kids are playing in a high level before they even touch base on the PGA Tour. We saw amateur guys in contention at a major championship and I think we're probably going to see more of that,' Johnson said.

'These kids are coming out of college, they've got teachers, they've got coaches, therapists, they're playing professional golf as an amateur. So when you make that transition it's almost seamless.'

Can Johnson win his third major at the PGA Championship? Have your say on CNN Sport's Facebook page

In the golfing world, winning the Masters at Augusta or the Open Championship at St. Andrews is as good as it gets.

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