Author: Jesse Dodson
There are not many in Utah golf that have had a year like Davis Park Assistant Professional Zach Johnson just experienced. To name a few accomplishments: Omega Utah Section Player of the Year, winner of the Utah Section PGA Professional Championship and playing in the 2018 PGA Championship.
Of the 13 events played, not including the PGA Championship, that provided points to the season-long Player of the Year race, Johnson didn’t finish lower than tied for 12th. That is the definition of consistency.
Looking at his year-in-review, a win at the Section Championship and being named Player of the Year is a career first for Johnson.
“Both are accomplishments I’m very proud of,” said Johnson. “Over the past few years I have been close on both awards but never have been able to win either. There are a lot of great players in our Section, so to be able to add my name to each of these awards is nice.”
Johnson finished first in the Player of the Year race over five-time Player of the Year award winner Chris Moody, assistant professional at Riverside Country Club in Provo, who finished second this year. Two-time Player of the Year winner and defending champion Tommy Sharp, instructor at the Golf Lab in Salt Lake City, finished third.
As usual, a lot was on the line during the Section Championship regarding the outcome of the year-long Player of the Year points and exemption spots available for the 2019 PGA Professional Championship. A win in the Section Championship awarded 1,400 points towards the Section’s top prize for players.
After round one of the Section Championship played at Toana Vista Golf Club in Wendover, Joe Summerhays lead the pack with a (-9) 63 followed by Johnson’s 64 and Tele Wightman’s 66.
Johnson continued his good play in round two by firing a (-7) 65, the low round of the day, to win the Section Championship. With only one bogey and 8 birdies, Johnson ensured a come-from-behind victory.
“I drove the ball really well both days, which is important out there,” Johnson said. “If you can keep the ball out of the desert you are going to give yourself a lot of birdie opportunities.”
A win and 1,400 Player of the Year points to add to his season total, Johnson secured the Omega Player of the Year award by 377 points.
A season with a Section Championship Trophy in hand and the Player of the Year awarded alone would be deemed a success. However, that is only half of the story for Johnson’s 2018 season. A special trip to St. Louis to play in the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club made this season one to remember.
“Playing in the PGA Championship was a great opportunity and a very humbling experience,” Johnson explained. “It was very eye opening to see how the best players in the world play. I’m grateful to have a day job!”
Johnson competed on one of the biggest stages of golf, in a PGA Championship rich with history. It’s a tribute to the quality of play provided in Utah by local Utah Section professionals and the skill level at which they compete.
“I’m looking forward to things slowing down with work and the playing season,” Johnson said of his eventful year. “My wife and I are expecting our second child, so I’m looking forward to being home and having some family time.”
A season with so many achievements and experiences can be hard to live up to, but with Johnson’s consistency and career outlook, no one would be surprised at a Johnson repeat next season.