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September 17, 2020

U.S. Open 2020: This Zach Johnson putt on Winged Foot's first green is for mature audiences only

Golf purists. Architecture geeks. Lovers of shotmaking, imagination, creativity, etc. Come one, come all. But first, hide your kids and hide your wife, because what you are about to see is for mature audiences only. 

On Thursday at the U.S. Open, Winged Foot's first green, one of the most treacherous on the West Course, has shown off. Approach shots that are short often spin back and lead to three putts. Approach shots that are long sometimes spin off the front of the green. Miss right or left, and you have to deal with a bowl surrounding the pin that is the stuff of first-hole nightmares. 

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That didn't scare Zach Johnson, who dug deep into his bag of tricks and used the bowl to his advantage. After missing way right of the flag with his approach, Johnson had a 36-footer for birdie that caused NBC analyst Paul Azinger to say "Well, good luck to you on this one. He's going to have to maybe go past the hole and have it come back down." That's exactly what Johnson did: 

Incredible putt. Incredible reaction. A.W. Tillinghast is smiling down from golf heaven. There's a reason Johnson is a two-time major champion, and it's not because he's bomb-and-gouging his way around. He's crafty, he's surgical, he's precise. All things that could serve him quite well if conditions get tougher on the weekend. 

That birdie conversion got ZJ back to level par, though he's already given that stroke back and dropped to one over. As of right now, that puts him at T-39. If he's able to make the cut on Friday, this putt will definitely have played a big role in that.