A native Iowan, who became champion of the golfing world last month, returned to the state today. Governor Chet Culver, before several hundred Iowans at the statehouse, signed a proclamation recognizing 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson.

Johnson, a Cedar Rapids native and Drake graduate, won The Masters golf tournament in Georgia last month. Johnson says he’s overwhelmed but not shocked with the ceremony, adding that Iowans seem to be everywhere he travels.

“I see every week the pride of Iowa,” Johnson said, “it’s on the first tee, it’s on the 18th green, it doesn’t matter where I am, on or off the golf course, I hear it.” Johnson has been quick to mention his love for Iowa when interviewed by national media. “This is where I started playing the game and it’s where my game progressed and when I have the platform to say that, I’m going to take full advantage of that,” Johnson explained.

Johnson surprised a lot of golf fans by holding off Tiger Woods to win at Augusta. “It wasn’t just Tiger,” Johnson said, “when I got done Justin Rose was only one shot back, so I really didn’t know where everybody was, and it was probably a good thing, I was just trying to stay focused on my game and fortunately things went in my favor.”

Johnson’s coach in high school at Cedar Rapids Regis, now known as Xavier, was Carol Trueg. “I was just in awe, I had company over for Easter and I’d sneak peaks and I’d hear the screams when he’d birdie, and it was just so exciting”, Trueg says of watching Johnson win the Masters on TV. Trueg has been teased lately, since she listed Zach as the number two golfer on the Regis team.

“He was little,” Trueg explains, “not mature physically, but he had the game and just a nice demeanor on the course that he just felt (golf) isn’t the most important thing in life and I believe that’s what has carried him over these days.” Since winning the Masters, Johnson has claimed the championship at the AT&T Classic near Atlanta.

Audio: Radio Iowa’s Pat Curtis reports on Zach Johnson. :40 MP3