Sharp wedge game helps Johnson take control in Hawaii

Sat Jan 4, 2014 7:29pm EST
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(Reuters) - Zach Johnson failed to take advantage of the par-five holes but his renowned, razor-sharp wedge game helped him seize a three-shot lead after Saturday's second round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

One stroke off the lead overnight after opening with a six-under-par 67, the American broke clear of a log-jammed leaderboard as he fired a seven-birdie 66 in the elite, winners-only PGA Tour event at the picturesque Kapalua Resort.

Though Johnson did not birdie any of the four par-fives on the hilly Plantation Course, he hit a series of wedge shots close to the pin on the par-fours and putted well as he posted a 13-under total of 133.

Matt Kuchar (68), Jordan Spieth (70) and champion Dustin Johnson (66) were tied for second place, with fellow Americans Webb Simpson (71) and Michael Thompson (71) a further stroke back at nine under.

Zach Johnson, who upstaged tournament host Tiger Woods in a playoff to win the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge in California last month, was delighted to see the prevailing trade winds return to Kapalua on Saturday.

"If you have the proper winds, for me not being a bomber, I feel like I can take advantage," Johnson, who is known for his accuracy off the tee and brilliant short game, told Golf Channel.

"There were a lot of wedges today and that's where I've got to continue to stick it close, with those wedges."


Johnson's sole regret on another mainly sunny day on the Hawaiian island of Maui was his mediocre performance on the par-fives.   Continued...