Today Zach Johnson fulfilled every golfer's dream. He won the historic Master's Tournament
in Augusta, Georgia.
He seemed cool and composed as he made his way through the treacherous back nine and even when he stumbled with a bogey on 17 it didn't fluster him on 18. He missed his approach shot just shy of the right bunker but made a beautiful chip to "gimme" range of the flag to par the whole and win by two stokes over the infamous Tiger Woods.
In Butler's Cabin just before 2006's champion Phil Mickelson helped into his green jacket, he sat down with Master's chairman Billy Payne and answered a few questions from reporter/commentator Jim Nance. He seemed awed and noted that the experience was "very surreal." He gave credit to his instructors and sponsors but then said, "More importantly I give my Lord Jesus all the credit
I knew that Zach was a great golfer but I didn't know anything about his faith. I did some googling this evening to see what I could learn about Zach's walk with Christ. The most comprehensive article I found was from Links Players International
. The article states:
Johnson's wife, Kim, had manufactured a personal ball mark for him. On one side she inscribed the words, "Trust your line," accompanied by the notation Proverbs 3:5,6, which says: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Johnson would set that side up on the putting green and recite the proverbial words to himself.
The reverse side of the homemade mark helped shape Johnson's mindset elsewhere on the course. The inscription was, "One shot at a time," and the Scripture passage was Matthew 6:33-34: "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough worry of its own."
The article goes on to describe how Johnson came to faith in Christ:
Closeness to God is something that has not always been there for Zach Johnson. He was raised to know Christ and actively participated in the family's church. In fact, Johnson says, he did have a relationship with Jesus. His parents taught their children to take their faith seriously, and Johnson prayed trusting God. But many aspects of his faith were not mature enough to survive the first few years away from home.
"I loved my four years of college," he says, looking back, "but that's kind of when things went astray as far as my faith went. I call those my 'blind years.' I'd go to church with my parents, and it didn't mean as much as it did before. There was not as much prayer in my life."
In 2002, while living and playing his winter golf in Florida, Johnson met his wife, Kim. They lived in the same apartment complex.
"She was the one who brought me a long way back to where I was, but in a more adult mind frame. Before my faith had been more childish.
"She really guided me along," Johnson says. "She didn't push me or pressure me. She just got my mind thinking. She provoked it in a very good manner. That's something I can never repay her for, but it was extremely wonderful."
Still, while Johnson had started thinking about his faith more deeply, he hadn't made any commitments. And even if he'd wanted to commit to Kim, she was hesitant.
"There was something in her heart that she could never marry a non-Christian man," Johnson says.
But Johnson wasn't sure this applied to him. "I always thought, You know, I'm a good guy, I believe in God. She can marry me. At that time I believed that all good people went to heaven, regardless."
In a pre-marital class at Kim's church in Orlando, however, the issue became clearer for Johnson. He needed to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
"One night in particular during that class, I remember that questions were being asked and my mind was searching and wandering. Then I was talking with my mom on the phone, and suddenly everything kind of hits you in the forehead and you just kind of open your eyes. I didn't think I was blind so much," Johnson recalls.
I'm so glad Zach gave credit to the Lord Jesus. He did just say "Thank God." Even an unbeliever could say that. He unashamedly said, "I give my Lord Jesus all the credit."
Soli Deo Gloria!