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'Great momentum' for Auburn All-American Michael Johnson in PGA Tour debut
Michael Johnson is 10-under par after two rounds in the Barbasol Championship, his first event since turning pro.
July 15, 2016

By Jeff Shearer
AuburnTigers.com

OPELIKA, Ala - Michael Johnson says he was more nervous playing with Gus Malzahn in the Pro-Am than he is playing with professionals with PGA Tour wins on their resumes.

Johnson, a first-team All-American at Auburn in 2016, is making a seamless transition to professional golf in his debut tournament, the Barbasol Championship at Grand National.

He followed Thursday's 4-under 67 with a 6-under 65 on Friday, reaching the halfway mark at 10-under in 3rd place, 7 shots behind leader Jhonattan Vegas, who shot a course-record 60.

"Definitely wanted to make the cut. Wasn't really thinking about being in the mix," Johnson said. "After I finished yesterday, I saw I was in the top 10, so that was a little goal today, to stay in the top 10."

Johnson said he's taking advantage of his familiarity with this course.

"It's nice. I didn't really need to work that much in the practice rounds," he said. "I knew where the pins were going to be, and the tee boxes, and where the misses are. It was nice just to go out and play. Not have to worry about other things."

Now that he's made the cut, Johnson says his approach will not change.

"Same thing. Just try to shoot in the 60s, and if you can go a little lower than that, it's great. If not, there's no reason to press."


 

 

Should Johnson finish in the top 10 this weekend, he will be eligible to play in the next PGA Tour event, the RBC Canadian Open in Ontario.

"You're always thinking about it," Johnson said. "But I'm just trying to hit one shot at a time."

Johnson's last shot Friday was a winner, a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 9.

"I didn't think I was going to get that one. That was a tough putt," Johnson said. "It's always nice (to finish with a birdie). You never want to finish with a bogey, it leaves a little sour taste in your mouth. Finishing with a birdie is great. It's great momentum going into the weekend."

In Wednesday's Pro-Am, Johnson played with Malzahn and Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs.

"It was fun. I know Jay a little bit better than Gus. Jay's great -- he's always there for students. I've met Gus a couple times. They're great. They're competitors. The reason they're where they are is because they like to compete. It was a lot of fun."

While Michael was signing his scorecard, Team Johnson -- his parents, along with many family members and friends - gathered for a picture.

"I have all sorts of folks out here," Johnson said. "It's fun. It's nice to have them cheer me on."

"It's surreal. I'm so happy to watch him try to make his dream come true," said Shari Johnson, Michael's mother. "It's just two days. His dream is to get his (PGA Tour) card. To be in Auburn, which is our second home - we all bleed orange and blue, we had a huge crowd, family, friends - it's a gift from God."

"I'm amazed. He looks like he's been out here all his life," said Hugh Johnson, Michael's father. "He's very calm. It's amazing. Being at Auburn, I've seen him play in college here, and junior golf, but playing a professional tournament is really special."

"I'm very proud of Michael," Shari said. "Michael has a good heart. He's a good boy. He has a good head on his shoulders. Looks like he's going to be a pretty good golfer, but he's a good kid, and I'm always proud about that."

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:

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