Heck, for a while, Saturday, he threatened to run away with the thing.
Saturday, he made the turn at 3-under after birdies at Nos. 1, 5 and 8, getting it to 11-under overall.
But Johnson said he putted poorly all day and it caught up to him down the stretch, when he missed a short par putt at the 13th before three-putts at Nos. 15 and 18. He even made a pair of six-footers at 16 and 17 just to secure two-putt pars.
Still, if he left the 18th green upset he gave a few strokes away, he has to understand he’s already blasted well beyond expectation, leaving him to play today’s final round with a briefcase full of house money.
Scott Watson, Lawton Ike’s golf coach, himself still playing after opening rounds of 70 and 69, sought Johnson out after the round.
“It’s hard to follow up a 62, man,” he said, “hold your head up high.”
Watson took notice of Johnson during Class 6A regional play, a week before Johnson began the run he’s still running, when he lost a playoff for the Class 6A medalist crown.
“He’s one of the best ball strikers I’ve ever seen,” Watson said. “He just has it.”
Hunter Austin is a North sophomore, a teammate of Johnson’s, and was walking the course Saturday supporting his friend. If Watson saw something at regionals, Austin saw it last summer.
“Before sophomore year, he started shooting a lot of under-par rounds,” Austin said. “Like, not in tournaments, but just shooting under par like 10 times in a row.”
Austin saw Johnson make his move when it didn’t count, which is always the first step to making it when it does.
About a tournament like this for a kid like Johnson being something that’s not supposed to happen, it’s good to remember the nature of the game.