THE chilling message for the chasing pack at Muirfield is that Zach Johnson is a more complete golfer than when he captured the 2007 US Masters.
The fact he partnered eventual winner Ernie Els for 54 holes of last year’s Open – including the final round – has made him even more equipped to handle a place at the top of the field.
That’s the message from American Johnson’s long-serving caddy Damon Green, who, while acknowledging that there “is a long way to go”, admitted his boss was in excellent shape as he prepared to tee off for his second round at 3.07 today.
“I would say Zach is a better golfer since he won the Masters,” said Green. “He is a fierce competitor who hates to lose.
“His ball striking is better and he has added some shots to his game he didn’t have before.
“He has worked hard with Mike Binder, his coach. You have to cut balls against the breeze here and he has added that to his repertoire.”
As he attempts to build on his opening five under par 66, the impression is that Johnson, a graduate of Drake University, Iowa, which has established a link with Capital tennis players James McKie and now Euan McIntosh, could not be better served by his bag man.
As well as being at the cutting edge down the home straight with Johnson a year ago, Green caddied for Scott Hoch on the Open’s previous visit to Muirfield in 2002.
“We needed a birdie at the last for the play-off, but took bogey,” Green recalled, adding: “Conditions are different this year, but playing with Ernie Els last year means he (Johnson) knows what it takes to win.
“I love the golf here, trying to figure out how to play courses. I have been coming here for a number of years. I am more used to it than Zach. It’s fun. Every shot you have to pay attention.”