Johnson leads surprising statistical category on PGA Tour, briefly

zach johnson
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Zach Johnson, who was 177th in driving distance last year, was surprised at his standing after the first round at Waialae.
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Sunday, January 15, 2012 | 8:34 p.m.

Zach Johnson received a text message from the PGA Tour on Friday morning that he most likely will never see again.

The tour sends updates to its players all the time on various statistical matters, such as Ryder Cup standings and their FedExCup points. Johnson was informed that after one round of the Sony Open, he was leading the PGA Tour in driving distance.

That's a fact, Zach.

For official driving distance, the PGA Tour picks two holes to measure tee shots. Last week at Kapalua it was par-4 third hole (typically into the wind) and the par-5 15th. So even though there were 41 drives over 400 yards last week on the Plantation Course, the leader in driving distance was Bubba Watson at 296.4 yards.

For the Sony Open, the holes are No. 1 and No. 9, which run in opposite directions on both sides of the driving range. In the opening round, before the wind picked up, Johnson hit a 342-yard drive down No. 1. With the wind at his back a few hours later, he hit a 326-yard drive on No. 9. That's an average of 334 yards, the best of the opening round, better than Watson's average.

For a guy who was 177th in driving distance last year, imagine his surprise.

"First time that has ever happened," Johnson said. "And probably the last, unless ..."

Unless what?

"Well, unless we had a five-man field with four Corey Pavins," he said with a laugh.

Alas, Johnson had plunged all the way the way to 11th after the second round, and the slide most likely is just beginning.