June 23, 2024

In his role as the U.S. Ryder Cup captain last year, Zach Johnson willingly embraced the pressure, despite the less-than-ideal outcome for his team. Now, several months later, Johnson has moved beyond the intense scrutiny and critical evaluations associated with the captaincy. The newfound sense of relief and freedom seemed to contribute to his outstanding performance in the initial round of The American Express.

In the first round of competition in the Coachella Valley on Thursday, Zach Johnson secured a share of the lead with Sweden’s Alex Noren, posting an impressive 10-under 62. A significant portion of Johnson’s remarkable performance included seven of his 10 birdies on the front nine.

Zach Johnson’s front-nine score of 29 during the first round marked the lowest nine-hole score in his extensive 493 career PGA Tour starts. Remarkably, he accomplished this feat with only 10 putts. Johnson attributed his stellar performance to a well-prepared offseason, highlighting the benefit of being free from the pressures of the Ryder Cup captaincy.

Zach Johnson expressed satisfaction with his recent efforts, emphasizing the substantial and positive impact of engaging in routine golf-related work. He appreciated the return to normal golf activities after fulfilling his responsibilities as the Ryder Cup captain last year, characterizing the experience as “awesome.” Now, Johnson is relishing the opportunity to focus on his game and appreciates the hard work and dedication involved.

The pristine desert conditions and the uncomplicated layouts of the three tournament courses naturally resulted in low scores from numerous elite players. Despite the presence of several members from Zach Johnson’s Ryder Cup team, Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion, outperformed them all in the initial round of The American Express.

Johnson concluded the front nine at La Quinta Country Club with an impressive streak of six consecutive birdies. He continued his stellar performance with three more birdies in the remaining holes, marking a flawless start for the 47-year-old as he aims for his first PGA Tour victory since the 2015 Open.

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