The smart money going into this British Open was on a Johnson ending Jordan Spieth’s Grand Slam-bitions.
But the smart money never has been all that smart, truth to tell.
For it was the other Johnson, just plain Zach, who took the Claret Jug at the close of the British Open that refused to die.
And what of pre-tournament favorite Dustin Johnson? Your 36-hole leader finished 75-75 for the last two rounds, in a tie for 49th place, back where former players like David Duval lived. That Johnson disappeared like a burp in a Scottish gale.
There was one of the more heartening aspects of a wild, rollicking, free-for-all of a tournament, one that made you believe in golf again.
The Open did not belong to the Johnson with the body seemingly designed for modern golf, like some hybrid human forged by Ping. Rather it went to the one who looks like he just rang up your X-outs at the pro shop (OK, that’s a stretch for a guy who also owns a Masters green jacket, but humor me).
The day was not won by the 6-4 small forward but rather by the balding 5-11 equipment guy. Not by the Johnson who leads the world in driving distance but by the one who is 162nd on Tour, give or take a good bounce off a cart path. Not by the Johnson with the glamorous fiancée, but the one with the wife he first met out by the trash bin at the Orlando apartment complex where they both happened to live a dozen years ago.
Yes, there remains a place in this souped-up game for a classic player, one who may not be the longest hitter in the world but is straighter than a Marine band (fifth in PGA Tour driving accuracy). Let’s hear it for a victory of precision over power.
And when it was over, who was there to greet the other Johnson? Where your average self-absorbed pro would have tried to grab the first lorrie out of St. Andrews after a long week and a hard defeat, Spieth stayed to witness the playoff and then to congratulate Johnson. If that kid’s not careful, he’s going to give overpaid sports figures a good name.
Maybe this British Open didn’t end when it was supposed to. Nevertheless, Monday was a very good day for golf.