Johnson Wagner's Mr. Fix It

April 04, 2008

HUMBLE, Tex. -- Johnson Wagner's father, Tommy, used to teach computer sciences at the Military Academy at West Point, so when things go wrong with Johnson's computer he has someone to whom he turns to repair it. So it would seem that for those occasions when his golf game goes awry, he'd want someone on whom he could rely to fix it. So it would seem.

Instead, Wagner, a second-year PGA Tour member from Charlotte, N.C., decided during the winter that he did not need a teacher, that he would fend for himself. Four straight missed cuts early this year convinced him otherwise. "I was wrong," he said.

So Wagner went back to his former teacher, Bobby Heins, the head pro at Old Oaks C.C. in Purchase, N.Y. They began working together after the PODS Championship a month ago, and the first significant dividend was paid Thursday at Redstone C.C. in Humble, Tex.

Wagner shot a nine-under-par 63 that included an eagle-birdie finish to share the first-round lead with Adam Scott at the Shell Houston Open. To boot, Wagner regained a share of the course record that he surrendered to Scott earlier in the day. Last year, Wagner shot a 64 in the third round of the tournament to set the standard.

"I looked online this morning and saw he (Scott) was five- or six-under through eight and said, 'oh, boy, there it (the course record) goes.' Walking down our first hole I looked over at my caddie (Steve Hale), we saw the board and he was nine under with one to go. I said, 'there it goes, it's gone.' "

"Well, the day is not over yet," Hale replied presciently.

Wagner attributes the round to the work he has done with the coach he thought he no longer needed.

--John Strege