Coming off a season marked by two victories and $4.5 million in PGA Tour earnings, Zach Johnson took steps during the off-season to raise the bar in 2013.
The defending champion at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, who took part in today’s tournament kickoff luncheon in Fort Worth, hired a statistician to help him dissect his 2012 performances and pinpoint areas he could improve.
Johnson, 36, said he sought to “find the holes in the stats” and close them this season because that his how he sets goals and gauges progress.
“My goals are never outcome oriented. I can’t control how many times I win. But I can control the drills that I do to help accomplish these stats,” said Johnson, who is Colonial’s career leader in earnings ($2,875,490) and set a tournament scoring record (21-under par) during his victory in 2010.
The premise, said Johnson, is that if he can hit targeted statistical goals, “then it’ll really show up on the leader board or on the outcome stats.”
A nine-time winner on the PGA Tour, Johnson said the statistical goals he seeks to improve this season include putting _ primarily three-putt avoidance _ as well as driving accuracy, scrambling and birdie conversion on par-5 holes. The early returns have been solid in terms of driving accuracy, where Johnson ranks sixth among tour competitors (70.87 pct.), and in par-5 birdie ratio (64.7 pct.), where he ranks 13th.
But he ranks 173rd in total putting and 111th in scrambling, two areas he seeks to improve as Johnson heads into Thursday’s opening round of the Northern Trust Open in Pacific Palisades, Calif. By design, Johnson has played sparingly this season _ he’s posted two top 25 finishes in three starts _ following the birth of his third child, Abby Jane, on Nov. 1, 2012.
“I don’t want to say I’m rusty, but I don’t feel like I’m quite as polished as I’d like to be at this point,” said Johnson who will compete this week for the first time since Jan. 20. “I’ve taken a lot of time off and … it’s just a matter of getting it back. The system’s in place. It’s just a matter of sticking with it.”
_ Jimmy Burch