Johnson - and Augusta - won

The sound you hear among the golf nation, casual or committed, is that of consternation, a sense that the 71st edition of Augusta National's little invitational didn't deliver.

Translation - Tiger didn't win, so therefore, it wasn't good.

That's how it's come to be in the last decade. With the exception of Phil Mickelson shaking off his gorilla three years ago (and seeing it climb back at Winged Foot), close to every single golf major has been slotted into two distintct categories - the ones where Tiger ruled, and the ones where someone else got every bit of good fortune and somehow prevailed.

It's a far-too-simple way of thinking. Not only does that make the nuances of the game seem trivial, it also cheapens the accomplishment.

At this moment, with a green jacket, Zach Johnson has earned the right to crow, but it's doubtful that this humble guy from Cedar Rapids, Iowa would boast any more than necessary.

Zach's game at Augusta spoke a lot louder. It had to, if any golfer was to overcome the perfect storm of circumstances that turned Bobby Jones' vision of nirvana into an unspeakable beast.

The same weather system that reintroduced winter to these parts brought a chill to Georgia. Combine those chilly temperatures with sunny skies and winds that swirled among the tall pines, and the folks in the green coats got just what it had wanted ever since it started to super-size Augusta in 2002.

At its hardest, Augusta only awards the best possible play. Few expected it from Zach Johnson, a one-time PGA Tour winner with a major record filled with missed cuts and finishes well down the list.

Yet Zach had received the full education for a golfer, from obscurity at Drake University to the drudgery of mini-tours to a rapid ascenion in the main ranks, culminating in his 2006 Ryder Cup appearance.

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