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Club pro Tom Johnson makes first PGA Tour cut since 2015 at Fortinet

Club pro Tom Johnson makes first PGA Tour cut since 2015 at Fortinet

NAPA, Calif. — Tom Johnson didn’t have to think very hard to name the last time he made a cut on the PGA Tour.

“2015, Sony, right? It’s crazy,” he said. “I almost cried walking off the green. I was trying not to think about it. It hit me. I just made a cut at a PGA Tour event, you know. Just saying that now makes me choke up. It means that much. It means I’m getting better.”

Johnson, 42, shot a pair of 69s at Silverado Resort’s North Course to make his first cut in more than eight years. Johnson earned an exemption into this week’s Fortinet Championship by winning the Northern California PGA Section Professional Championship at Lake Merced in August and a check for $7,000. He’s been teaching the game since 2016 but lived the life of a Tour pro for several years, including in 2007 when he had full status.

“On one hand, it’s a dream come true to be out here. On the other hand, it’s a really hard life and it takes its toll, especially when you’re just existing on Tour like I was. I was just treading water,” he said. “It was what I dreamt of doing but when I got out here I didn’t feel like it was a dream.”

Johnson suffered from performance anxiety, recording just one top-25 finish ($56,667 represents his largest check for finishing 18th in the 2007 Bob Hope Desert Classic) and finishing 196th on the money list.

“Just imagine the worst kind of butterflies to the point where you think you are going to throw up,” he said. “I know I’m not alone. I’ve read how Bobby Jones lost lots of weight when he played.”

Johnson learned to calm his nerves in unusual fashion. Experiencing yips so severe at the Northeast Amateur when he was 18 that he putted one-handed, he took a shot of whiskey during a rain delay “that made me feel warm and at ease,” he told the Sacramento Bee in 2015. When he qualified for the PGA Tour at the six-round pressure-cooker known as PGA Tour Q-School, he smoked marijuana before every round and finished in eighth place.

He’s not the only golfer to ever smoke pot, but he may be the only pro to use it to enhance his performance.

“I thought that worked, I’ll do it again,” said Johnson, who has admitted to smoking marijuana before all 70+ rounds he played during the 2007 season. “It got to be where I was abusing it ever closer and closer to my tee times and I can think of a time I even did it during play, which I’m not proud of, but at that time I really needed something.”



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