Zach Johnson lost his lucky ball marker at Colonial, but found it later in the week. (How/Getty Images)
By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM
Superstitions exist in all walks of life. The number 13 is considered bad luck. Unbelievably, some office buildings skip that number as a floor. We don’t walk under ladders, and we would hate to break a mirror.
Golf is no exception when it comes to superstitions and good luck charms. Zach Johnson has a very special ball maker. Johnson’s wife, Kim, made him a ball marker that contains biblical phrases and verses that he reads during the round.
Johnson is not alone in his use of charms in hopes of bringing better scores. Superstitions have always been prevalent in golf. All-time great Chi Chi Rodriguez marks his ball with the head side up, and he never uses pennies as a marker. Then there’s two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw. He has been known to play only low-numbered balls -- one through four -- because he doesn’t want to make a score higher than that. And there are countless other golfers with charming behaviors such as these.
Why do golfers have superstitions? While many of these superstitions might seem a bit strange to an outsider, they provide an important purpose to our mental and emotional health. Life is very unpredictable. We want control where there is none, and superstitions make us feel more in control. By engaging in this action (e.g., always playing with a number two on our ball), we believe to have a greater influence over the outcome of the event (e.g. having a better score).
Furthermore, this perceived sense of control derived from our superstitions gives us a more relaxed attitude. Psychologists have determined that a greater sense of control over our environment will lead to less anxiety in our lives. Thus, superstitions can reduce our anxiety on the golf course and give us peace of mind about our game.
Would I, as a sports psychologist, recommend such habits?
Of course, as long as they are not counterproductive or inappropriate, such as skipping breakfast because you believe eating the day's most important meal has brought you bad luck in the past.
More important, you should develop positive superstitions, such as the belief that you must practice your putting for 10 minutes before every round. Goethe once stated, “Superstition is the poetry of life.” It is an art form to weave actions into your golf game that give you a peace of mind.
Bio: Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the Tour” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players as well as top collegiate and junior golfer. Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf, and you can get your autographed copy at www.drgreggsteinberg.com.
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Defending champion Zach Johnson started strong in Sunday's final round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Johnson. He birdied the first two holes and is now 10 under for the tournament through his first five holes on Sunday.
BIRDIE AT NO. 1: Johnson hits a 53-foot bunker shot to 7 feet on the par-5 1st and makes the putt for birdie. (Top video)
BIRDIE AT No. 2: Johnson hits his 65-yard approach shot to 9 inches on the par-4 2nd and make the putt for birdie. (Bottom video)
Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner are paired again at Colonial (Halleran/Getty Images)
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Seeing Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner paired together at a PGA TOUR event has become a familiar scene. Especially at Colonial.
A year ago at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, Johnson and Dufner were paired in the final two rounds of what essentially turned into match play for the title, as the two separated themselves from the rest of the field. Johnson eventually claimed his second title at Colonial, with Dufner finishing second.
This week, they are playing the first two rounds together, along with last week's winner of the HP Byron Nelson Championship, Sang-Moon Bae. The threesome tees off Friday at 1:33 p.m. ET.
"I totally enjoy it," Johnson, who opened his title defense with a 1-under 69, said about playing with Dufner. "We've always gotten along very, very well. We kind of went through the ranks together from the Web.com to the TOUR."
Said Dufner, who started with a 3-under 67: "It's always good playing with Zach."
Last year's Colonial weekend served as the first of many pairings for Johnson and Dufner the rest of the year. Because of their proximity to each other in FedExCup points during the Playoffs last year, they were paired in the first two rounds at the Deutsche Bank Championship, the first two rounds of the BMW Championship and the first round of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
Then, of course, they were teammates on the U.S. squad at the Ryder Cup. They won both of their foursomes matches and lost one four-ball match.
Thursday was the first time they had been paired together this year.
"We're pretty familiar with each other's games," Dufner said. "We kind of play a similar game, so it's kind of easy to club off and kind of see how the course is playing."
Said Johnson: "I'd say his ballstriking is a little more consistent than mine overall, but for the most part, we're both pretty consistent."
Having played against and alongside Dufner for the past year, Johnson has come to appreciate his stoic nature.
"He plays very a-motional golf, I would say," Johnson said. "I like that. I like watching it. I like being around that.
"Plus, he's a good friend."
JOHNSON-DUFNER PAIRINGS SINCE 2012
|Tournament||Round||Johnson's score||Dufner's score|
|2012 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial||3||65||66|
|2012 Deutsche Bank Championship||1||70||67|
|2012 BMW Championship||1||67||72|
|2012 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola||1||68||70|
|2013 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial||1||69||67|
JOHNSON-DUFNER AT 2012 RYDER CUP
|Foursomes||Beat Lee Westwood/Francesco Molinair, 3 up|
|Foursomes||Beat Nicolas Colsaerts/Sergio Garcia, 2 up|
|Four-ball||Lost to Rory McIlroy/Ian Poulter, 1 down|
Zach Johnson didn't play his best round but held it together for a 69. (Halleran/Getty Images)
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
FORT WORTH, Texas -- The best moment of the first round was a quiet exchange between caddie and player in the ninth fairway. Ryan Palmer had hit a 303-yard drive on his final hole and followed that up with a wedge to 5 feet. His caddie, James Edmondson, whispered, “Make that putt and you’ll tie my course record.”
Edmondson is a Colonial member and three-time club champion. With Edmondson's encouragement, Palmer made the putt for an 8-under 62. He knows the course so well, Palmer was not afraid to hit driver on most holes and knew his numbers so well, he never needed to look at his yardage book.
Frustrated: Zach Johnson seemed ready to make his move. He was 1 under and had 98 yards into the sixth green. Johnson pushed his sandwedge 10 yards right of the hole, into a bunker and made bogey enroute to a 69. It was such a bad shot, I wondered if Johnson had been in a divot. “Not a bad lie, just a bad swing,” was his answer. Frequently this season, Johnson seems ready for a charge that doesn’t materialize. He says a “lack of fundamentals” is the problem and while Johnson did not elaborate, he could be referring to his putting.
Johnson ranked eighth and 11th in strokes gained-putting the last two seasons but is 101st this year. He has always had an unusual address position while putting, with his hands even with -- or even slightly behind -- the golf ball. Johnson worked hard last season in getting his hands slightly forward at address but they appear to be even with the ball this year.
Inconsistent: Jason Dufner has had plenty of good rounds this year but has not had a good tournament. He has yet to post a top-10 finish and it’s puzzling. Dufner ranks 72nd in FedExCup points and is 47th in scoring average at 70.857. Dufner has struggled on the weekend, ranking 115th in third-round scoring and 165th in the final round. When a player consistently struggles, he knows he has to make changes. Dufner shows flashes of great play and then fluctuates. That is very frustrating for the player because the game keeps teasing him into thinking everything is fine and he doesn’t know whether to make changes or stay the course.
Color coordinated: Daniel Summerhays knows why he shot 65 in the opening round. Part of it was due to taking 23 putts and making nine birdies while averaging a tournament leading 1.182 putts per green. Those are all good reasons, but Summerhays wanted to talk about his clothing. He wore an orange shirt with gray pants and Summerhays says every time he wears that color combination he plays well. In fact, Summerhays says he might wash the shirt just so he can wear it again this week. If Summerhays keeps taking just 23 putts per round, it won’t matter what color combination he wears.
Let it fly: Colonial is known as a golf course for shot makers. The theory is you play for position off the tee, sacrificing distance for accuracy. Matt Every had a different plan and went with driver more than most other players. Every hit only eight fairways but averaged 302 yards off the tee. It led to a 5-under 65. Every reasoned a cool spring has lead to sparse bermuda rough and the course is not as punishing as it has been in the past.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Following an 1-under 69 in Thursday's opening round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, defending champion Zach Johnson reflects on his play with Fred Albers from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
FORT WORTH, Texas -- A year ago, on the 72nd hole, Zach Johnson suffered a penalty for improperly marking his ball before his final putt. It cost him two strokes. It did not cost him the tournament.
It did cost him good-natured ribbing for the next 365 days.
"You can say that," he said.
Johnson won the 2012 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial thanks to having a three-shot lead over Jason Dufner going to the final hole on Sunday. On the putting surface, Johnson's ball was in the line of Dufner's putt, so Johnson moved his ball marker ... then forgot to move it back when it came time to putt out.
Johnson's margin of victory went from three shots to one. He took full responsibility for the miscue, making fun of himself and smiling whenever anybody brought up the incident.
"I probably wouldn't be laughing as much if it influenced the outcome," he said. "Once again, I made a mistake. Live and learn."
During a charity event back in Johnson's hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Ben Crane and Stewart Cink addressed the crowd about "Golf 101." Of course, they brought up how to properly mark the ball, then proceeded to bring out a marker the size of a hubcap, with the slogan, "Remember Colonial."
"I had some peers of mine that poked fun at me at pretty good length," Johnson said. "It was pretty good."
Johnson would love to go to the 72nd hole this week with a similar advantage. He'll be sure to properly mark his ball this time. And then perhaps the ribbing will finally go away.
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Insider
There are some weeks in which seasoned one-and-doners just plug a guy in and forget about it. This is one of them.
Zach Johnson is the most obvious play for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. He's the defending champion, also won in 2010, sits No. 1 in all-time earnings at the event and has earned more at this tournament than any other in his career.
He has yet to log a top-15 finish this season, but his tie for 19th at THE PLAYERS Championship was his best in a full-field event. (He shared 18th place at the 30-man Hyundai Tournament of Champions to open the season.)
I'd burn him if I didn't already exhaust my one, self-imposed mulligan on a defending champion (Tiger Woods, Bay Hill). So, I'll ride a guy that likely went unlisted in games that require participants to fill in an entire season's worth of starts in January: Henrik Stenson.
He sits atop my Power Rankings and while he's just 2-for-3 at Colonial with no top 25s, he's been populating leaderboards for months. Prior to an early exit at last week's Volvo World Match Play Championship in Bulgaria, he tied for fifth at THE PLAYERS. It was his third top 10 in a five-event span.
Kevin Streelman is No. 2 in the Power Rankings. He's extremely tempting as a one-and-done. I love that he chalked up his breakthrough victory in Tampa as just another step in his career, and I won't talk you out of him. Call it a coin flip, but Stenson leads the PGA TOUR in both driving accuracy and greens in regulation.
David Toms ranks third in all-time earnings in the event. He epitomizes the profile of what it takes to succeed on the classic track, but he has just one top-45 finish in eight stroke-play starts this season.
Jim Furyk is fifth in earnings, but we'll continue to remain patient for a potential start as Colonial ranks 12th on his personal ranking of prize money earned. The others inside the top nine and on site are Rory Sabbatini (sixth), Corey Pavin (seventh), Tim Herron (eighth) and Tim Clark (ninth).
Clark would serve as a sensible option in two-man games unless you're holding off for the Travelers Championship or Wyndham Championship. However, he hasn't banked more money in any other tournament he hasn't won than at Colonial. He's also flashed enough form this season to warrant the spot.
Last week: Jason Day; T27; $46,565.00
Overall Record: 19-for-21
Top 5s: 5
Top 10s: 10
Top 25s: 14
Missed Cuts: 2
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The final pairing of Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia tees off at 2:40 p.m. on Saturday. Here's a closer look at each of them, plus who and what else to watch for this afternoon at TPC Sawgrass.
Webb Simpson (1:30 p.m. ET): The reigning U.S. Open champion seemed to turn the corner at Hilton Head, where he finished second after losing in a playoff. This week, he's third in fairways hit and enters Saturday five back.
Jason Dufner (1:30 p..m ET): He had six birdies and just one bogey in the second round and is one of the best ball-strikers in the game. He also finished sixth here two years ago.
Zach Johnson (1:50 p.m. ET): The last four finishes for Johnson here: T32, T22, T12, T2. See the trend? A couple late bogeys on Friday hurt, but Johnson is still in the mix four back.
Adam Scott (1:50 p.m. ET): Playing for the first time since his Masters victory, Scott is in position to go after his second PLAYERS title (he won here in 2004). He's just four shots back.
Hunter Mahan (2 p.m. ET): After struggling in his last few starts, Mahan has turned it around here, hitting 75 percent of his greens in regulation.
Matt Kuchar (2 p.m. ET): No player has ever won this tournament two years in a row. After a 66 Friday, Kuchar has a chance and enters the third round just four shots back.
Ryan Palmer (2:20 p.m. ET): The Texan is playing with a heavy heart after a longtime friend was killed in a car accident Thursday night. He's wearing the initials "CA" on his hat in honor of him.
Henrik Stenson (2:20 p.m. ET): The 2009 champion is in contention again after making two eagles in the second round (on the par-5 second and ninth holes). When he won here four years ago, he shot a final-round 66.
Lee Westwood (2:30 p.m. ET): The Englishman has finished fourth, fifth and sixth here. All that's missing is a win. He's the only player without a bogey through the first two rounds.
Tiger Woods (2:40 p.m. ET): It's been a dozen years since Woods has won here, but he said all facets of his game are clicking right now and it's showed so far with his best 36-hole start in his history here.
Sergio Garcia (2:40 p.m. ET): Like Woods, Garcia has won here before (in 2008), but he's struggled at times playing alongside the world No. 1 with five his last six rounds in the 70s when the two have been paired.