Golf

Published: Monday January 20, 2014 MYT 10:12:02 AM
Updated: Monday January 20, 2014 MYT 10:12:10 AM

In-form Johnson aims to stay sharp during break

Zach Johnson of the U.S. waves to the gallery after finishing the third hole during the final round of the Sony Open golf tournament at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii, January 12, 2014. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry

Zach Johnson of the U.S. waves to the gallery after finishing the third hole during the final round of the Sony Open golf tournament at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii, January 12, 2014. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry

(Reuters) - American Zach Johnson has arguably been the hottest player in the game over the past five months and his decision to take the next four weeks off raises questions over whether he can regain his sparkling form on return.

Johnson himself has no doubts and said on Sunday he is already thinking of ways he can improve the quality of his golf before making his competitive comeback at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson, Arizona.

"I am going to have a meeting with my guys (caddie, coach and manager) and see what's the best way to maintain where I'm at, if not improve on it," Johnson told reporters after tying for third at the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, California.

"I will practise but I will take some time off too. The first couple of weeks will certainly be a lot of down time with the family.

"The last two weeks coming into Tucson I will get the clubs out again and start working, try to get back into that mode and certainly that posture."

Johnson's mode and swing posture have been near-faultless since September when he ended his 2013 PGA Tour campaign with victory at the BMW Championship in Chicago, followed by a tie for seventh at the Tour Championship in Atlanta one week later.

He went on to beat tournament host Tiger Woods in a playoff for the unofficial Northwestern Mutual World Challenge in December, then landed his 11th win on the PGA Tour at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii earlier this month.

Johnson tied for eighth at last week's Sony Open, also in Hawaii, before storming into a share of third place at the Humana Challenge on Sunday when he birdied the last five holes for a best-of-the-week 10-under-par 62.

"I am never going to be content," the world number six said of his scintillating form in recent months. "I'm going to try to maintain and keep the good vibes and forget everything else. This week will be irrelevant once Tucson hits me."

Johnson, a medium-length hitter who is renowned for the superb quality of his short game, readily admitted that he was delighted with his 10-birdie display at the PGA West's Palmer Private course on Sunday.

"Frankly I did a lot of good things," the 37-year-old said. "I drove it straight, for the most part hit a lot of fairways. I just got hot late.

"I missed some putts early. I had a three-putt for par in there and a couple of other mishaps but I think I made up for it in the last five or six holes," Johnson said.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Gene Cherry)

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