PINEHURST, N.C. — Zach Johnson received the best Father’s Day gift Sunday at the U.S. Open.
It came about two hours after he made a hole-in-one on the ninth hole at Pinehurst No. 2.
Johnson was greeted by his wife, Kim, and their three children in the scoring area after his round. Will, Wyatt and Abby Jane were all excited to see their father.
With one of Johnson’s children squealing with delight, playing partner Kenny Perry quipped, “That’s just what your Daddy was doing out there.”
Johnson wrapped up his week at the U.S. Open on Sunday with a final round of 2-over-par 72. That put him 9-over for the weekend.
The on-course highlight came at the par-3 ninth. Playing 172 yards, Johnson’s 7-iron shot landed pin high, bounced softly and funneled into the cup.
That set off a wild celebration, with Johnson fist pumping on the tee and then running down the rope line and high-fiving the gallery. The shot began trending quickly on social media.
“I thought it was a good shot,” said Johnson, who threw the ball into the gallery. “I was expecting it to land past the pin, release two or three (yards) and then roll down there to 15 or 20 feet.”
Johnson was aided by Perry’s club decision, who teed off first on the ninth. Players can’t ask each other for advice, but caddies can see what other players hit. When Perry’s 8-iron shot came up short, Johnson went with the 7-iron.
“This is one of those weeks, the way the greens are situated, if you can club off your playing partner it’s a huge advantage,” Johnson said. “If I’d had the honor there I would have hit an 8-iron and been short.”
Perry was playing with Peter Jacobsen in 2005 when he made a hole-in-one at the ninth during the U.S. Open at Pinehurst.
“He’s a good-luck charm,” Johnson said.
It was the 44th hole-in-one in U.S. Open history, but the first in competition for Johnson. He now has three to his credit.
And while a person who makes an ace is expected to buy drinks in the clubhouse after the round, Johnson said that wasn’t going to happen Sunday.
“You’re exempt on Father’s Day,” he said with a laugh.
One person who lost money because of the shot was Johnson’s caddie, Damon Green. Or did he?
“My caddie actually made a wager with someone, he bet a hundred bucks that no one would make a hole-in-one this week,” Johnson said. “The way he looks at it, that might have made him a hundred.”
Even though he finished in the middle of the pack, Johnson was encouraged by his ball-striking Sunday.
“My short game was brutal today, terrible,” he said. “The longest putt I made was for par on 16, about six feet. I hit it great, tee to green was awesome. Those 8- to 15-footers, I made none.”
A special shot and a special greeting from his family were bright spots in a difficult week.
“It makes a pretty sour, average week a little sweeter,” he said. “Especially on Father’s Day.”