Family expectations a 'problem' for Johnson on Maui

Thu Jan 8, 2015 6:51pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

KAPALUA, Hawaii (Reuters) - Returning to the Hawaiian island of Maui for the PGA Tour's Hyundai Tournament of Champions is a double-edged sword for Zach Johnson, whose young family now expect him to be a perennial qualifier for the event.

Johnson clinched last year's title by one shot over fellow American Jordan Spieth and will be competing in the winners-only field at Kapalua Resort for the eighth time, having missed out on qualification only once since 2007.

The elite $5.7 million event this week brings together 34 winners from the previous season and Johnson, an 11-times champion on the PGA Tour, has given his children the impression that he punches his ticket to Maui virtually at will.

"My (two) boys, granted they're young, they kind of expect it," a smiling Johnson told reporters while preparing for Friday's opening round on the Plantation Course.

"That's a problem. My eight-year-old has celebrated six birthdays here in Maui. That's also a problem, but a good problem.

"It's great to be back in Maui. This is a pretty special place to start, and it's one that certainly I and my family relish because it's not easy getting back here."

Johnson triumphed at Kapalua last year after closing with a seven-under-par 66, iron-clad confirmation that he has adjusted well to a hilly layout that measures 7,452 yards.

"I used to think this golf course wasn't in my favour but the more and more I play it, the better I feel like it is suited to me," said the 38-year-old American. "I've grown to at least enjoy it, for sure."   Continued...