Johnson edges Scott, Toms to win Sony Open|
Honolulu, HI (Sports Network) - Zach Johnson kept his foot on the pedal and
emerged on top of a crowded leaderboard Sunday to win the Sony Open, closing
with a five-under 65 at Waialae to beat Adam Scott and David Toms by two
Johnson, the third-round leader, made three key birdies during a five-hole
stretch on the back nine when it looked like the tournament was up for grabs.
He ended at 15-under-par 265 for his fifth career PGA Tour title -- and third
since his win at the 2007 Masters.
Toms played alongside Johnson and shared the lead several times on the back
nine, but he managed just one birdie over his last eight holes and finished
with a 66.
Scott, with six birdies on his last 10 holes, fired a 64 and tied Toms for
second place at 13-under 267.
The leaderboard was tight at the top. Charles Howell III was one of four
players -- along with Johnson, Toms and Scott -- who held at least a share of
the lead Sunday. But an inexplicable bogey at the 18th left Howell with a 66
and solo fourth place at 12-under 268.
Kevin Na (66) and Brian Gay (68) also finished within four strokes of Johnson,
sharing fifth place at 11-under 269.
In the end, Johnson won by minimizing mistakes down the stretch -- and going
for birdies when he could -- after a couple of early dropped shots let the
field back in.
"It was tough," said Johnson. "I feel very fortunate to come out on top."
The first full-field event of the 2009 season was marked by wet, windy
conditions for the first two rounds. But players had mostly benign conditions
for the weekend, when Johnson took control of the tournament.
Playing for the second straight week in Hawaii -- he tied for sixth at the 33-
player Mercedes-Benz Championship last Sunday -- Johnson posted four scores in
the 60s at Waialae
Although he also shot a 65 in the second round, Sunday may have been his best
He protected his lead immediately with a five-foot birdie on the first hole,
going up two shots. He recovered from a drive into the water at No. 3, which
resulted in a bogey, with a 29-foot birdie putt at No. 4.
Johnson made another mistake at the par-three seventh, knocking his tee shot
into a bunker and taking another bogey that left him in a three-way tie for
the lead with Scott and Howell.
But he bounced back with a three-footer for birdie at No. 8 and wouldn't make
another big mistake the rest of the way.
Still, there were the others to contend with. When Scott made an 11-foot
birdie putt ahead at the 13th, there was a four-way tie for the lead. Just 15
minutes later however -- after back-to-back birdies at the 10th and 11th --
Johnson had a one-shot lead by himself.
And when Howell tied him for the lead by rolling in a 23-foot birdie putt at
17, Johnson responded almost instantly with a 10-footer for birdie at 14.
Johnson missed a chance to put the tournament out of reach when he pulled a
10-foot birdie try at the 16th, but he scrambled for a nice par at the 17th to
preserve his lead.
A calm, closing birdie at the 18th increased his winning margin.
Johnson took time off during last season to get his game in shape, then won
the Texas Open during the Fall Series. Now, the former Masters champ has
opened the '09 campaign with two good starts -- and one big win.
"I was just encouraged with the start of the year. I was just encouraged where
my game was going into it," said Johnson, who earned $972,000 for the victory.
"It's been a lot of work, but that's what I like -- the process and the road
to this is what's enjoyable."
Further down the leaderboard, 18-year-old Tadd Fujikawa closed with a
disappointing 73 to finish tied for 32nd place at five-under 275. The Hawaiian
high school senior, just two strokes off the lead overnight, was trying to
become the first Monday qualifier to win on the PGA Tour in almost 23 years.
"There wasn't any pressure, but the feeling was definitely different," said
Fujikawa, who made the cut for the first time as a professional. "I just
couldn't get anything going today."
01/18 23:08:49 ET