Zach attack earns Johnson victory at British Open

Tue Jul 21, 2015 6:37am EDT
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By Tony Jimenez

ST ANDREWS, Scotland (Reuters) - American Zach Johnson claimed the second major triumph of his career after winning a four-hole playoff at the end of a captivating, cliffhanger of a final round in the British Open on Monday.

In an Open that never seemed to want to end, the 39-year-old surged through the field with a closing 66 before overcoming South African Louis Oosthuizen (69) and Australian Marc Leishman (66) in extra holes.

"I feel blessed to be the champion and honored to be part of the history of this game," said Johnson after a round played in a damp and heavy atmosphere but, more importantly for the players, in light winds.

"It has been a week of patience, courage and trust. I can't play any better than I did. I just stayed in it, waited for the opportunities and made a few putts."

Johnson, who won the U.S. Masters in 2007, took a vice-like grip on the playoff by ramming in birdie putts of 12 and 18 feet at the first two holes and could afford the luxury of taking a bogey at the 17th before a par four at the last sealed victory.

Oosthuizen, the winner of the Open when it was last played at St Andrews in 2010, was level par for the extra holes while Leishman effectively played himself out of it when he three-putted the first. He ended two over.

Johnson wiped tears from his eyes before hugging his wife as he walked off the 18th green to pick up the coveted Claret Jug and a first prize of 1.15 million pounds ($1.79 million).

One of the first to congratulate Johnson was fellow American Jordan Spieth who failed to make the playoff by one stroke after a day of fluctuating fortunes.   Continued...

Zach Johnson of the U.S. is presented the Claret Jug after winning the British Open golf championship on the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, July 20, 2015. REUTERS/Paul Childs