Zach Johnson's wedges top-notch
And what lessons did 20-year-old Jordan Spieth learn at Kapalua?
The surgical precision of Zach Johnson's wedge game at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions proved you don't have to be a bomber to win at Kapalua's Plantation Course.
So is the 11-time PGA Tour winner the No. 1 player in the world with a wedge in his hand? And what did 20-year-old runner-up Jordan Spieth learn after coming up a shot short?
Our scribes dive into those topics and more in the latest edition of Four-Ball.
1. True or false: Zach Johnson owns the best wedge game in the world?
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: False. If my life was on the line, and it was a closest to the hole from inside 125 yards (with any or all lies in play -- fairway, rough, bunker, etc.), I'll take Luke Donald every time.
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: True. There are many great wedge players on tour, but few have done as much with that aspect of their game as Zach Johnson. The former Masters champion is a testament to how a superior wedge game can make up for a lack of power in the long game.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: False. There are several players who are better statistically than Johnson, whether it be from 100 to 125 yards or 125 to 150 yards. But this is clearly the area where Johnson excels when his game is on, and he showed it again at Kapalua.
Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: True. After a winning performance at Kapalua, it would be hard to pick anyone other than the 2007 Masters champ. That being said, Steve Stricker could give him a run for his money in a 100-yards-and-in contest. Maybe they could set that up for the week of the Players Championship?
2. What does it say about Zach Johnson that eight of his 11 PGA Tour victories are of the come-from-behind variety?
Collins: Same thing it said about him on the Web.com Tour ... the term "Sunday Zach Attack" wasn't just a cute moniker. If he's within two or three shots of the lead Saturday night, you should be afraid.
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Evans: Zach is a resilient competitor. He doesn't have the game to dominate a field, so he's had to rely on precision and a great short game.
Harig: He might not be flashy, but Zach can make birdies. He had a flurry of them on the back nine and has no problem going after the leaders. He has a knack for not going away, and that was evident again.
Maguire: That he's never out of it. Some guys live to be the front-runner (see Woods, Tiger.) Others, like Johnson, bide their time and strike when the moment is right. Monday in Hawaii was just right for the now 11-time winner.
3. What's the biggest lesson Jordan Spieth learned from his second-place finish at Kapalua?
Collins: Jordan Spieth now knows even when he doesn't have his best stuff, he can still put himself in position to win. I seem to remember another guy who used to say, "I didn't have my A game today." As he was holding a trophy ... or 90.
Evans: At 20, Jordan Spieth is a baby in tour years. No matter the result in Hawaii or in the next year, the experience of being regularly in contention will serve him well in his infancy as a world-class player.
Harig: It's not easy to win. He shared the 54-hole lead and took a one-stroke lead to the back nine and got passed despite playing decently. Still, a second-place finish and the $665,000 puts him in excellent shape as the new year is underway.
Maguire: That you can hold the 54-hole lead, shoot a bogey-free final round of 4 under and still lose on the PGA Tour. The 20-year-old Spieth had numerous chances for birdies late in the day, but a stretch of seven pars in a row to start the inward nine ultimately is what cost him at least a shot at a playoff with Johnson.
4. Fact of fiction: Zach Johnson will finish off the Hawaiian double this week at the Sony Open?
Collins: Fiction. Zach Johnson has never won in back-to-back weeks. And especially going from Kapalua to Waialae, the golf courses couldn't be any more different. Mental letdown and a completely different strategy/style course will prevent him from winning two in a row.
Evans: Fiction. The Sony has a full field, which will make it much more difficult for Johnson to win in back-to-back weeks. At the Hyundai, he had to beat only 29 players.
Harig: Fiction. Johnson has won the Sony Open in the past, and three of his past six stroke-play events. But it's a lot to ask to win back-to-back events these days, and there will be plenty of hungry players at the first full-field event of 2014.
Maguire: Fact. If I'm putting money down on one guy to win at Waialae Country Club, it would be 2009 Sony Open winner Zach Johnson. Not only did he hold off a stellar field this week at Kapalua, but he did so even after shooting 74 in the third round. No one else in the top five on the leaderboard had a single worse scoring round than Johnson's 74, yet he managed to gut out the victory despite struggling with his putter for much of the final round.
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