July 11 2012
With his regular caddie, Damon Green, playing in the U.S. Senior Open, Zach Johnson had an opening on his bag at the John Deere Classic, the PGA TOUR event closest to his hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The man who will carry Johnson's bag this week is the man who also coaches him -- fellow Iowa native Mike Bender.
Since winning the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in mid-May, Johnson's best finish in his last three starts is a tie for 41st at the U.S. Open. He's hoping an intense week with Bender -- the two were on the range until late on Monday and had another practice session on Tuesday -- will give him a boost.
"It's not like we're changing anything," said Johnson, who has two top-5 finishes in his last three starts at TPC Deere Run but has never won here. "We're just kind of trying to go back to what we were doing and what we should be doing. You have his eyes and you have the camera. The camera doesn't lie. So you know, you can kind of pinpoint things pretty quick."
Green had caddied in Johnson's last 173 starts on TOUR. Bender told the Des Moines Register that he has been a caddie on just one other occasion, for Mac O'Grady, a former client, "years ago."
In regards to Johnson, Bender told the newspaper that "even if I see just one thing I could help with, it will be worth it."
He also added one other thought about being on the bag this week.
"I’m not caddying to finish second,” Bender told the Register.