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He is the most accomplished member of that hall

of fame, now 69 members strong. And those in

attendance saw a side of Johnson rarely on display.

He got emotional during his acceptance speech, when

speaking about his family in attendance as well as

the man who got him started in golf as a 10-year-old,

Larry Gladson, the head pro at Elmcrest Country Club

in Cedar Rapids.

“The point is, like any parents that love you and

certainly want the best for you, they didn’t think that

was the wisest choice,” Johnson said of his decision to

pursue golf as a career. “Yes, I went against the grain.

But I had a dream.”

Johnson was never the No. 1 man on his golf teams at

Cedar Rapids Regis or Drake. But one thing nagged at

him as he neared graduation at Drake. Every year he

was ge�ng better.

“I’d always been trying to improve, trying to get

better, and just seeing where that progress could go,”

Johnson said. “I clearly wasn’t the best in high school

or here (at Drake). But there was improvement, and I

didn’t know where that would stop.”

So he jumped head first into pro golf, with the help

of several dozen investors in his home town. The

consensus, among those investors, was that they’d

love to help a young man chase his dream, foolhearty

as it was.

“Emotionally, all of us were hopeful he’d make it,” said

Patt Cobb, one of those investors, Johnson’s Pee Wee

baseball coach back in the day and now the chairman

of the Zach Johnson Foundation. “Intellectually, there

were not a lot of us that thought this kid was going to

be on the PGA Tour.”

But he got there, in 2004, winning for the first time

that year at the BellSouth Classic and never looking

back. He jumped from 126th to 49th in the World Golf

Rankings after that victory and has not been outside

the Top 50 since. He’s been ranked as high as No. 6

in the world and has spent 110 of the last 112 weeks

inside the Top 30.

“Congratulations to him for winning that award,” said

Tom Lehman, who also won an Open Championship

in 1986, was the Ryder Cup captain in 2006 when

Johnson made the team for the first time and is

playing in the Principal Charity Classic this week.

“What a fine person and an amazing human being.”

Ge�ng a little better is still Johnson’s mantra in his

13th season on the PGA Tour.

“I know what my resume says, but that’s still the way

I operate,” Johnson said. “I think if I get caught up in

what’s transpired inside the ropes, things outside the

ropes can go astray and that’s the last thing I want to


And yes, mom and dad have bought into their oldest

son’s career of choice.

“I’m grateful for all my family,” Johnson said. “At some

point along the way, they trusted me that I had made

the right decision. “

Johnson, his wife, Kim, and their three children live in

Sea Island, Ga. But home is also where the heart is.

And Iowa will always he in Johnson’s heart.

“God gave me the ability to play this game,” Johnson

said. “I’m not going to slight that. I’m going to take full

advantage of that opportunity. If it’s just representing

the state of Iowa, that’s fantastic. This is where I’m

from. I don’t live here, but I’m a proud Iowan.”