Zach Johnson totally understands that golf fans worldwide were disappointed when Jordan Spieth’s Grand Slam run came to an end Monday at St. Andrews. But a day after the thrilling finish to a fantastic five days of golf, the winner of the three-way playoff to determine who got to use the Claret Jug as a "sippy cup" could not work up a whole lot of sympathy for his pal.
"Yeah, maybe a little bit, because he’s a friend," Johnson said on the Dan Patrick Show Tuesday about whether, as the radio talk show host put it, "any part of you feels bad for Jordan Spieth."
Spieth, who was aiming to capture the third leg of the calendar-year Slam after victories at the Masters and U.S. Open, and become the first golfer since Ben Hogan in 1953 to do so, was one of the first to greet and congratulate Johnson after his triumph on the Old Course.
Spieth also joined ZJ and a bunch of other folks, including Bill Horschel, Jason Dufner, Jimmy Walker, Webb Simpson and Harris English on a trans-Atlantic flight after the festivities in Scotland.
"We actually flew home together last night. It was fun ... it was interesting," said Johnson, who distilled the uniqueness of golf down to its essence.
"Our sport may be odd," he said. "We try to beat each other's heads in but when it comes down to it we're going to be the first to applaud and share in the moment."
As Johnson did a week earlier at the John Deere Classic, when he finished a shot out of the playoff and waited around to salute Spieth for outlasting Tom Gillis in overtime.
But is his heart breaking for Spieth’s failure to keep the Grand Slam dream alive? Nah, but he appreciates why others do.
"I don’t know if I feel bad for him," Johnson said. "Yeah, maybe a little bit. As a sports fan, he was on the brink of doing something we just haven't seen in forever, so I get that. He was the guy most people probably wanted to have win and I get that too.
"He’s a tremendous athlete a tremendous player, a phenomenal talent, and ... he’s a better person, a better kid off the golf course," Johnson added. "For him to be there on No. 18 after the playoff, it didn’t really surprise me because I know his character, but it does speak volumes as to how he was raised and certainly how he conducts himself and how he puts the game in perspective. He knows he's not bigger than it. And he's just a great addition to the great game of golf."
Of course, as Patrick jokingly suggested, perhaps Spieth just hung around after the tournament because he was waiting for his ride home.
"Well, that might have been it," Johnson said with a laugh. "He just said, ‘Hurry up, we gotta go ... I get it, I’ve done it (won a major) twice.’"
SB Nation video archives: Urban golfing with a U.S. Open champ (2012)