The “other” player in the PGA Championship’s power threesome pretty much played like it Thursday.
Zach Johnson struggled to find the fairway all day and shot three-over 75 in his first round at a major since capturing the British Open last month.
That was nine shots out of the lead and four behind his playing partners, world No. 1 and No.2, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.
“I had difficulty on every tee,” said Johnson, who hit only five of 14 fairways.
He got frustrated. After gouging out of the rough three times, then needing a 10-foot putt to save bogey on No. 4, he picked up the ball and threw it into Lake Michigan.
On the next tee box, he put another one in the water, leading to a long discussion with a rules official, then a drop far back in the fairway that led to a bogey six.
Pretty much par for the course for Johnson, who beat Spieth and Jason Day by one stroke in regulation at St. Andrews, then won a three-way playoff to capture his second career major.
The PGA traditionally pairs the past three major winners in the opening rounds.
That put Johnson with Spieth, who won the Masters and US Open this year, and McIlroy, who is the defending PGA champ.
They drew a big crowd.
Johnson only wished he could have given them a better show.
“There were some good irons, some substantial amount of mistakes that I can recall,” Johnson said.
“About four or five mental mistakes I can easily recall. That’s frustrating.”