Monday, April 09, 2007

Zach Johnson: This Year's George Mason

Before the NCAA tournament, everyone insisted on asking, “Who is this year’s George Mason?” However, the 2007 edition of March Madness had no Cinderellas to replicate the Patriots’ magical run of last year. Major upsets were almost nonexistent, and the Final Four consisted of all #1 and #2 seeds. Therefore, the answer to “Who is this year’s George Mason?” seemed to be “no one.”

As it turned out, the question should have focused on a different sporting event to culminate in Georgia during early April. Sunday, the Masters Tournament was won by a man who had missed the cut in his previous three majors. The 2004 BellSouth Classic was his only PGA Tour victory before this weekend. As such an unlikely winner, Zach Johnson truly became this year’s George Mason. He may not have been coached by Jim Larranaga, but here’s how Johnson compares to last year’s Final Four longshots.

Zach Johnson: Wore the green jacket
George Mason: Wore green uniforms

Zach Johnson: Celebrated his victory in Butler Cabin
George Mason: Celebrated thanks to guard Lamar Butler

George Mason: As a D.C.-area team, inspired fans of the Washington Nationals
Zach Johnson: Inspired fans (excuse me, PATRONS!) at Augusta National

Zach Johnson: Went 1 over par in signature victory at Augusta
George Mason: Went 1 overtime in signature victory over UConn

George Mason: Namesake was a Founding Father
Zach Johnson: Namesake was a founding member of The Fray

Zach Johnson: Moment of glory came after 11 uneventful appearances in majors
George Mason: Moment of glory came as an 11th-seeded mid-major

George Mason: Ended North Carolina’s reign as champion
Zach Johnson: Ended Phil Mickelson’s reign as champion

Zach Johnson: Has two PGA victories in the state of Georgia
George Mason: Had two CAA victories over Georgia State

George Mason: Eliminated the Missouri Valley Conference’s Wichita State Shockers
Zach Johnson: As a Drake alumnus, he’s a Missouri Valley member who pulled a shocker

Zach Johnson: After finishing his round, watched Tiger Woods come up short
George Mason: After finishing their season, watched the LSU Tigers come up short

George Mason: Played in the presence of Jim Nantz and Billy Packer
Zach Johnson: Played in the presence of Jim Nantz and Billy Payne

Zach Johnson: Faced numerous water hazards
George Mason: Eliminated by Gators, which are hazardous in the water

Zach Johnson: Survived Amen Corner
George Mason: Shouted “Amen!” after Denham Brown missed from the corner

George Mason: Refused to listen to skeptics on the outside
Zach Johnson: Won at a club that refuses to listen to ANYONE on the outside

Zach Johnson: Played under the radar on the Hooters Tour
George Mason: Players were under-the-radar hoopsters