Tom Johnson’s comeback continues on the opposite side of the earth.
Last week in Thailand, he finished fourth in the final stage of the Asian Tour qualifying tournament to gain status for 2016.
This week, he’s in Singapore for the Asian Development Tour’s Players Championship.
I felt like Asia would be a great experience, a way to see the world, and a way to get into bigger and better tournaments.
Tom Johnson of Fair Oaks
“I don’t have plans to come back anytime soon,” Johnson said Tuesday en route to Raffles Country Club, the host of this week’s event. “Just golf.”
Johnson was born in Sacramento, grew up in Fair Oaks and graduated from Del Campo High School. He was the second-ranked college player in the nation at Northwestern in 2002. And he was a fully exempt member of the PGA Tour in 2007.
But an addiction to marijuana and alcohol sent him into a downward spiral. Johnson said he’s been drug- and alcohol-free since July 5, 2013.
His “reappearance” of sorts came at the 2015 Sony Open in Honolulu, where he qualified and finished 51st, but he was unable to gain any American major-tour status during the year, so he left Arbuckle, where he had relocated, and headed to a place decidedly more exotic.
“I didn’t want to do another year of Monday qualifying,” Johnson, 34, said. “I felt like my game was ready and that I needed status and regular competition.”
The Canadian and Latin American tours have upward mobility to the Web.com Tour, he said, but they don’t offer the money or world-ranking points the Asian Tour does.
“I felt like Asia would be a great experience, a way to see the world, and a way to get into bigger and better tournaments,” Johnson said. “The end goal is always to play on the PGA Tour and in the four major championships.”
Johnson’s first Asian Tour event will be Feb. 10 in Bangladesh. His status after that largely will be contingent on how well he plays when he gets the opportunity.
“Bangladesh is very important,” he said. “I’ll be ready.”
John Catlin, a Gold River resident and Jesuit graduate, earned Asian Tour status for the second consecutive year. His final-round 7-under-par 64 moved him up 71 spots into a tie for 25th – the top 40 received spots.
Catlin, 25, made two cuts and earned $3,400 in eight Asian Tour starts last year.
Rain doesn’t hurt
The predicted El Niño is in full swing with almost 5 inches of rain in Sacramento in January. The statewide snowpack is above normal for the first time in three years.
You would think golf course superintendents would be giddy, but that doesn’t fit their even-keel style – or the reality of the situation.
“It’s not like it’s raining and we’re going, ‘Woohoo, we get to flood our golf course this year,’ ” said Wes Leith, superintendent at Morgan Creek and Wildhorse.
Leith said he plans to stick with drought maintenance protocol because being efficient with water is the right thing to do. Leith said he used 20 percent less water on peak watering days last year than he did before drought conditions started three years ago, and he plans to continue this year.
64 Closing qualifying round by John Catlin of Gold River to earn Asian Tour status for the second consecutive year
At Granite Bay, superintendent Matt Dillon received a 36 percent reduction compared to 2013 in his allotment from the San Juan Water District. Despite the recent storms and a forecast for a wet spring, he predicted only a marginal allotment increase this year because the water level in Folsom Lake still is far below normal.
“Nobody is talking about drought restrictions being relaxed,” he said. “This might be the new normal.”
While rain cuts into course revenue – the past two winters have been a boon financially – it ultimately benefits conditions, the superintendents said. The quality of rainwater is immensely superior to irrigation and naturally flushes the soil of unwanted salt. And trees are receiving the deep watering they haven’t had in three years.
“It will allow us to aerify more aggressively,” Dillon said. “You should ultimately get better conditions.”