Johnson adds power in bid for 4A golf crown

David Douglas junior has polished his strokes on school's home course

David Douglas junior Vincent Johnson has the short game to win the Class 4A title in boys golf. And he figures he's got the power game, too, thanks to a new driver.

Johnson, who finished second in the state tournament as a freshman, added between 30 and 40 yards to most of his drives after purchasing a new club in November. He has gotten enough control over his newfound power to play three successive 18-hole rounds at or under par.

'I've been playing well lately,' he says, 'and it's just in time for the playoffs.'

David Douglas, which won five of its first six district tournaments this spring, will be the favorite entering the Mount Hood Conference tournament Monday and Tuesday at the Resort at the Mountain in Welches.

The state tournament is May

19-20 at the OGA Members course in Woodburn.

After his strong freshman season, Johnson had plenty of pressure to win as a sophomore, and it affected his play. He finished in 42nd place, 17 strokes behind state champion Dustin Andres of Tualatin, who was a freshman.

Johnson says the pressure to win the state title is off him now.

'Because I had done so well as a freshman, there was a lot of pressure to win or it would be a letdown,' he says. 'This year, I'm having a lot more fun, enjoying the game a lot more.'

Part of Johnson's enjoyment has come from helping build an 80-yard hole, complete with putting green and chipping area, on school grounds during the last two years. The Scot players and as many as 500 other students helped cart in 10 dump-truck loads of sand, bags of grass seed and fertilizer, and rocks to build a stream for an adjacent trout pond.

Senior Jason Oliver is the head greenskeeper. Johnson is in line to succeed him next year.

'It's a lot of hard work having to get here at 6 a.m. to fertilize the grass some days, but it's a lot of fun, too,' Johnson says. 'It's nice to go to a course and know what goes on behind the scenes to get a course ready to play on.'

David Douglas coach Stan Woodfill says his players are cutting strokes from their scores thanks to their constant practice on the short par 3, 80-yard hole.

'It's making a difference in our scores,' Woodfill says. 'Anyone who can hit a ball onto our green and not worry about breaking any of the windows (of the classrooms that surround the hole) can handle some pressure.'

In addition to Johnson and Oliver, the team features seniors Brandon Adams, Chris Jolliff and Kevin Woodfill, the coach's son.

Johnson says adding 30 to 40 yards to his drives has given him confidence now that he has learned to keep most of his drives on the fairway.

'Having the power isn't such a good thing sometimes,' he says. 'You've definitely got to learn when to let one go and when to hold back a little.'