By Tony Jimenez
No one should be surprised if Zach Johnson goes on to win several more majors because, even though he is approaching 40, the new British Open champion is working harder than ever and is performing at his peak.
The American waited a long time to add to his one previous major win at the U.S. Masters but believes he is now a more rounded performer than the golfer who had the Green Jacket draped around his shoulders in 2007.
“I feel like I’m a better player than I was then,” Johnson told reporters after beating South African Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman of Australia in a four-hole playoff at St Andrews on Monday.
“I never really thought I’d win one major. Then you get one and certainly you feel like you can win more and you want to win more.
“It drives you, motivates you to practice and get better,” said Johnson, 39, after climbing from 25th to 12th in the world rankings. “I really love golf and certainly as I’ve gotten older I’ve enjoyed practising more.
“I’ve enjoyed working out more, fortunately. I enjoy the gym and getting the opportunity to go out and work.”
Johnson saluted the strong influence his backroom team, his wife and three children, his family and friends had on his capture of the prized Claret Jug.
“I’m very appreciative of that because this isn’t by happenstance or luck,” he said. “I think quality hard work creates luck.
“I’m not saying I’m lucky but, yeah, the support I have back home, the support I have had this week from friends and family was tremendous whether it was a text or a video from my kids or whatever.
“This is certainly a sharing moment and fortunately we get to have it for at least a year. I’m ecstatic to share it with them.”
Johnson now has 12 tour victories to his name but said none could compare to the moment he lifted the Claret Jug for the first time.
“I’m humbled right now because of what’s in my lap and the names that are etched on this piece of metal,” he added. “That is very special.
“It’s the ‘who’s who’ in the game. It’s the guys that paved the way. It’s the individuals that are historic in sports.
“I’m honoured and it’s still beyond surreal. I guess when you have a great team, great things can happen.”