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Zach Johnson on target _ again at Humana Challenge

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 16, 2014 at 8:16 pm •  Published: January 16, 2014
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LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) — Zach Johnson asked his short-iron approach on the par-4 18th to "Do something right, baby." It did.

With just a hint of a draw, Johnson's shot landed to the right of the right-side pin and spun to 2 feet to set up a birdie Thursday that left him two strokes behind first-round leader Patrick Reed in the Humana Challenge.

Thriving on great driving, even better wedge play and putting, Johnson has three worldwide wins in his last seven starts.

He began the run in the BMW Championship in September, and beat Tiger Woods in a playoff in December in the World Challenge after holing a wedge for par on the final hole of regulation. Johnson followed that with a victory two weeks ago in Kapalua.

"I don't think I'm the best," Johnson said when asked if he's the best wedge player.

He pointed to Ryder Cup teammate Steve Stricker.

"He's the first one that comes to my mind," Johnson said. "Phenomenal wedge player. ... But my wedges are clean. ... I've worked on it a lot. I've worked on it in a number of different ways, but the main way is really just trying to dial in yardages and trajectories."

Johnson finished with a 7-under 65, hitting all 14 fairways at La Quinta Country Club — the most-demanding driving layout in the three-course event. He hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation and had 27 putts in his bogey-free round.

"The greens over there are, I don't even know how to explain them, it's like carpet," Johnson said. "I mean, they're just so good. I don't know what they do over there, but they look artificial. They're like this every year, but they're as good as I've ever seen."

Johnson has 11 PGA Tour victories. Dating to his rookie season in 2004, only Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh have more.

"It means that I'm doing something right," said Johnson, the top-ranked player in the field at No. 6.

Reed had a 9-under 63 in perfect scoring and weather conditions. He ran off five straight birdies in the middle of his bogey-free round on PGA West's Arnold Palmer Private Course and tied his career low.

"The course is in perfect shape," said Reed, the Wyndham Championship winner in August. "The rough isn't very high, the fairways are perfect and the greens are rolling very true."

Reed started on the back nine and birdied Nos. 16-18 and 1-2 to get to 7-under. He added birdies on Nos. 6 and 7.

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