Zach Johnson wins British Open in three-man playoff for second career major

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It’s been several years since Zach Johnson was on anyone’s radar as a threat to win a major championship. He’s back on everyone’s radar now.

With a -1 in the four-hole playoff, Johnson outlasted Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman to win the 144th British Open for his second career major. The 39-year-old previously won the Masters in 2007.

Johnson joins Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead as the only golfers to win the Masters and the British Open on The Old Course.

“I can’t. I’m at a loss for words. You don’t like to see a tournament end on a miss. I hate that and Louis is a champion and a friend. But I’m grateful and humbled. I’m thankful. I’m honored, I mean this is the birthplace of the game and that [Claret] Jug means so much in sports and specifically this tournament and golf,” said an emotional Johnson after the round.

Johnson edged Oosthuizen by a stroke when the South African missed a 12-footer birdie putt at the 18th hole, the fourth hole of the playoff. Leishman finished three shots back Monday evening.

“It hasn’t set in yet. But I feel great. I was patient. I had some scripture going in my head and I thank the lord, my friends my family. I’m just in awe right now,” Johnson added.

Starting the day at 9-under and three shots off the lead, Johnson came out like a cannon on Monday. The Cedar Rapids native birdied seven of his first 12 holes to move to 16-under and claim the outright lead. Johnson dropped two shots after bogeys on 13 and 17. But Johnson, who was hot with the putter all day, made a clutch birdie on 18 to claim the clubhouse lead at 15-under.

Zach Johnson makes a clutch birdie putt on 18

“A lot was going through me there. I had a great read. Danny Willett was near my line so I had a great read on it. Let’s just hit a good put.”

Zach Johnson hits a birdie on the second playoff hole

“I don’t know if I can summarize it. I’ve come a long way since 2007. That kind of launched my golf career. I think what this does if anything is really put things in perspective for me. I play golf for a living, it’s a beautiful game. I’m just so thankful,” said Johnson.

“I always enjoy playing St. Andrews, especially The Open. I had a lot of chances today. But Zach left the door open on 17 and I couldn’t take advantage of that, so well done to him.” said a disappointed Louis Oosthuizen, who won The Open the last time it was held at St. Andrews back in 2010.

“Obviously I’m disappointed I definitely had my chances. It’s golf at the end of the day Ill be able to go home and still have my wife and boys. Life goes on. I take a lot of confidence.” said Marc Leishman, who was looking for his first major championship.

The British Open win is Johnson’s 12th career PGA Tour victory. His last win on Tour came during last year’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

The final major of the year is the PGA Championship, which will be held at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin, on Aug. 13-16.