John Deere Classic. Brian Breaks Through.

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Brian Harman breaks through to record his first PGA Tour win at  the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run.

Harman's TaylorMade clubs

Brian Harman /Getty Images

Brian kept his head to shoot a final round -5 under par 66, to grab his first PGA Tour win at the John Deere Classic with his -22 under par tournament total.

Brian spoke about knowing the rest of the field were putting pressure on him, and recounted a conversation he had with Zach Johnson the last time he was paired with him;

“I saw the guys were playing well, so that’s when I felt it, but I was able to hit three really good shots on No. 9 to birdie, and that kind of got me going.”

“It was very hard, probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do in my life, just trying not to let your mind run wild is the hardest part out there.”

I talked to Zach about it, and he felt I was trying to get out of his way a little too much and that I needed to stake my ground a little bit.”

“When those thoughts enter, it’s like what’s the best way to get those things you want.”

Zach Johnson finished in second place at -21 under par, a final round of -7 under par 64 was not quite good enough to force a play-off. He thought Brian, a neighbor of his, would eventually come through;

“He’s always been known as a gritty player that plays pretty simple golf, to me it was just a matter of time.”

Jhonattan Vegas was in third position on his own at -19 under par, a final round -6 under par 65 giving him that result.

Scott Brown and the only long putter exponent in the field, Tim Clark, tied for fifth place, both returning -18 under par tournament totals.

Three-time winner Steve Stricker fell off the pace early, and then compounded that mistake with a double-bogey on the par-3 12th, finishing with a last round+1 over par  72 and a tie for 11th  ;

“It was hard to play after that, I was just trying to get it in without getting in Brian’s way.”

John Deere Classic. Harman Has High Hopes

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Brian Harman has high hopes of winning the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run.

Brian Harman has been in control of his game for three rounds and could win his first TOUR title Sunday. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Brian Harman / Getty Images

Brian shot a -6 under par 65 on Saturday, which gives him a one shot lead at -17 under par, to take into the final round at TPC Deere Run, searching for his first PGA Tour victory. Brian said he pays attention to what Steve Stricker is doing;

“I pay attention to what Steve’s doing but don’t base my game on his, he’s had a lot of success here.”

“I watched Zach win this golf tournament, and learned a lot.”

Hot on his heels is Steve Stricker, who carded a -7 under par 64 to occupy second place on his own at -16 under par. Steve thinks it will be difficult to win with so many guys contending;

“So many guys are in this thing, guys can get off to hot starts here, but you can answer them also.”

 “It will still be difficult for me tomorrow, I’m not in that final group a lot out here, especially now. I’ll want to take advantage because I’m not playing very much. To get back into the winner’s circle would mean a lot.”

Scott Brown is in third spot, after his beautiful bogey free third round of -10 under par 61 gave him a tournament total of -15 under par.

Scott Brown carded the week's best round (10-under 61) to to pace his strong Saturday grouping. (Gregry Shamus/Getty Images)

Scott Brown / Getty Images

Scott said he was really just trying to get back into the competition, then started to think about a 59;

‘I was just trying to get back into the golf tournament, and it turned into a great round.”

“Yeah, we kind of got it going early, we were all making a bunch birdies and it just turned into a really special day. Well, they are great guys to play with for one thing, and it’s a bonus when you start making birdies and everybody is feeding off each other. It’s like, he made a birdie, I better make one on the next hole. It is a great mentality and great to have a group like that.”

Tim Clark, Jerry Kelly, William McGirt along with 2012 champion Zach Johnson are three shots back of the leader at -14 under par.

John Deere Classic. McGirt & Johnson Lead

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William McGirt and Zach Johnson lead at the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run.

William McGirt / Getty Images

William had a second round -5 under par 66, giving him a -12 under par total and a share of the lead with Zach. He said he is virtually unknown on the Tour, and he is happy with that situation;

“I love being in this position because you can go about your business and nobody really knows who you are. You can go to dinner, and people ask ‘Are you a golfer? What’s your name?’ 

“William,” he will tell them. “You just leave it at that and they walk away and go, ‘Who was that guy?’”

“I like to go out, play golf, have a few beers and watch a football game, nothing flashy about me. Nothing that stands out. I’m just like everybody in this room, like everybody out at this tournament. I didn’t grow up very well off. I’ve never been the most talented guy out here. I’ve had to work for everything I have gotten. Everything I have gotten out of the game, I have pretty much earned through hard work. That’s just me in a nutshell.”

“For some reason I’m able to see the line this week, I feel I’ve putted better the last few weeks and haven’t holed anything.”

Zach Johnson / Getty Images

Zach scored a second round -4 under par 67, to get his total of -12 under par, and he is happy to have friends in the gallery;

“I’ve grasped and embraced the fact I’m going to have a lot of friends outside the ropes, and it’s terrific. They don’t care if I shoot 62 or 82. They’re still going to be on my side.

“Trying to play for them may have been part of the issue years ago, but not anymore.”

Steven Bowditch, Johnson Wagner and Brian Harman are all tied in third place, just one shot off the pace at -11 under par tournament total.

Steve Stricker is in contact with the leaders, shooting a -6 under par 65 today, to finish with a -9 under pat total. He thinks he knows how to play this course;

“I know how to play it, I guess, there’s a lot of short iron shots, which plays into my game, and I seem to putt the ball really well, too.”

“At least I kept pace, this was an important day for me. I didn’t go out with a specific number in mind, but I knew I needed something good.”

Defending champion Jordan Spieth was five strokes behind the leaders through 36 holes, thanks mainly to a -7 under par 64 second round. Interestingly he was five back after two rounds last year.

 

John Deere Classic, Three tied at the Top.

 

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Zach Johnson is one of the three who are tied at the top, with Brian Harman and Rory Sabbatini at the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run.

Johnson hot at John Deere

Zach in action / Getty Images

Zach burst back onto the scene opening the John Deere Classic with a -8 under par 63, and is tied at the top with Brian Harman and Rory Sabbatini.

 Zach had this to say about being patient;

“I have found myself a little impatient in the weeks prior to this week. In Hartford, I missed the cut by like 35 shots, it felt like. In the U.S. Open, I made the cut, but it was pretty boring, bad golf after that. I was a little spent.”

Today he actually thought about shooting a 59, like Paul Goydos;

“It entered my mind very briefly, I don’t want to say I should have shot 61 or 58 or 60 or 59 or whatever. But I had a chance. I’d rather have 59 wins than shoot 59.”

 Brian had a spot of caddie trouble,  he was -2 under par through six holes when his caddie, Scott Tway, suddenly took ill. A volunteer from the crowd, Jay Hatch of Davenport, Iowa, took over for the next 12 holes;

”I called a medic over and Scottie said he was going to have to sit out at least a couple holes. Jay was standing there and said, I’ll do it. I’ll keep up.”

”If you go out and birdie half of the golf course, you feel you’ve done fairly well.”

Rory has not been in contention for quite a while, but said he like the look of this course;

‘I like this course and how it plays, it’s fun for spectators because there are a lot of fireworks, and fun for us players, too. This golf course requires the basics, hit the fairway, hit the green, make some putts.”

Is that not true of any golf course ?

These three are ahead of  Todd Hamilton, Steven Bowditch, and William McGirt  by a stroke with all of them at -7 under par following their opening rounds of 64.

Todd, who is now a  decade removed from The Open victory at Royal Troon, birdied his first two holes and was off on an improbable round of 64;

‘I haven’t been playing well, it seems if I play well, I shoot 71 or 70. Everyone else when they play well, they shoot 65 or 64. It’s a big discrepancy.”

John Deere Classic, Thrilling Three Way Tie and Five Hole Play-Off

Jordan Spieth captured the John Deere Classic on Sunday on the fifth playoff hole for his first PGA TOUR victory. At the end of regulation play at TPC Deere Run he was tied at the top with defending Champion Zach Johnson and David Hearn, all at -19 under par.

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Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth and David Hearn / Getty Images

Jordan, just nineteen years of age, carded a final-round -6 under par, 65, after holing out a bunker shot on the 72nd hole to finish at -19 under and a tie with defending champion Zach Johnson and David Hearn. It then took five extra holes to decide the winner, with Jordan scoring a birdie to win it out-right.

Jordan Spieth and Trophy / Getty Images

This  win gives Jordan full-time membership on the PGA Tour, along with a chance at the FedEx Cup playoffs, and also  gives him a chance of a tilt for the Claret Jug , as his win gives him a spot at Muirfield next week. Jordan said he did not expect to win this early in his career, and is now worried about his summer golf attire going to Scotland;

“I didn’t think it would happen this early, I had a plan. I guess the plan got exceeded. The shot on 18 was the luckiest shot I ever hit in my life. The fact that it bounced right and hit the pin and dropped down to the cup, it’s just extremely fortunate. Just got so lucky. That’s what it is. But right now I’m extremely pleased, and a little worried about only having short sleeves going to Scotland”

Defending Champion Zach Johnson had a chance to win the tournament on the first play-off hole, but his  12-foot birdie putt attempt agonizingly missed.

Zach and the missed putt on the first play-off hole, the 18th./ Getty Images

Zach reckons he has seen too much of the 18th hole;

” I don’t need to see that hole many more times. I had my chances on the back side in regulation. I mean, I hit some really good shots and just didn’t make anything. I love this place, as you all know, and I am just appreciative to be able to play and represent this tournament. I feel like this is my profession and one thing you have to be is resilient. I’ll get over it pretty quick, I’ll keep the mindset that I am playing well and ride it out. I’ll be fine.”

David Hearn is happy with his play and is looking forward to playing in the RBC Canadian Open, in two weeks;

” I’m obviously happy with where my game is at going into that, so I’ll be happy to compete again. Congrats to Jordan. He’s going to have an amazing career, obviously. He’s an incredible talent to come on tour at his age and have as much success as quickly as he has. So hat’s off to him.”

John Deere Classic. Two Tied At TheTop

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Zach Johnson and Camilo Villegas are the two players tied at the top of the leaderboard after the opening round of the John Deere Classic, at TPC Deere Run.

John Deere Classic, Round 1

Zach Johnson and Camilo Villegas / Getty Images

Defending Champion Zach Johnson has posted his intention to hold on to the John Deere Classic trophy by carding a very comfortable first round -7 under par 64.

Zach said he was always comfortable playing this course;

” I have always felt comfortable here, regardless of my numbers. It just feels natural now, I’ve gotten so used to being here that it just feels very, very comfortable now. When you are comfortable with the surroundings, when you’re comfortable with the peripherals, it helps. My routine has been the same here the last three or four years, we’re staying in the same place, I’ve got my family here. The John Deere Classic staff does a great job of just letting me get into my game. I can only imagine winning this tournament twice in a row, let alone three times in a row, it’s just not easy. When you can embrace the positives you had from the previous years, previous rounds, that’s great. However, you still have to really just stay in the present. That’s what makes what Steve Stricker did that much more impressive. To take it to another level, that’s what makes what Tiger Woods has done over multiple years, on multiple golf courses, multiple events, repeating, defending, even beyond impressive. I can live with that, especially now that I have won here, but even before that. I’m not trying to over simplify it, but what I have done is just felt like, you know what? It doesn’t matter if I shoot 85 or if I shoot 60. Friends and family are still going to be here, cheering for me. It’s just the fact of the game and where I am here. And I am so thankful for that.”

Camilo Villegas, who has been in the doldrums for sometime suddenly had a red-hot putter, needing only 26 putts in his round of -7 under par 64, to equal Zach’s total;

” Made some great putts and just kept out of trouble, I was very pleased with the way I handled myself out there. It was a nice, relaxed, chill attitude and I enjoyed every single bit of the round. It’s the game of golf, it’s a messed up game. You make a little mistake here, a little mistake there, and the numbers just don’t add. I truly believe that sometimes we over analyze. When guys start playing bad, they get calls. I can help you. Then you’ve got the mental coach, the golf swing coach, you’ve got the physical trainer. You have all these people who have the answer, and nobody has the answer, It’s only you. Let me tell you, in this game everything is a lot easier said than done. This job is great when you’re playing good, it kicks your butt when you’re not performing. But you can kick your butt even harder when things are not going good. So I’m trying not to be that guy that kicks his butt a little bit harder, just enjoy every second of it.”  

Tied in third place are Brendon De Jong, Matt Bettencourt and Daniel Summerhays, all on -6 under par, just one shot behind. The John Deere Classic looks like being another closely contested contest, and Zach has a real incentive to win again.

The John Deere Classic, Zach Johnson wins in Play-Off

Zach Johnson won the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run on Sunday with a birdie on the second play-off hole, after he and Troy Matteson had finished tied at -20 under par. The first play-off hole was a bizarre event where both players scored a  double bogey 6, after hitting their second shots into the water and being unable to recover to score a five.

Crowd pleaser

Zach Johnson /Cohen/Getty Images

This week was a good week for those who believe in God. Earlier, in Scotland, Jeev Milkha Singh had won with a birdie in a play-off in the Scottish Open, Jeev had remarked;

” I think God has been kind.”

Zach, a devoted Christian, also thanked God after he had sunk his winning birdie putt on the second play-off hole. About his joy at winning this tournament he said;

‘ It just feels awesome. This tournament has meant so much to me and my family, from when they gave me exemptions to being a part of its board.”

He also spoke about the great 6 iron shot he played from the bunker on the second play-off hole, which led to his winning birdie putt from about twelve inches;

“I liked that crescendo from the crowd, I saw it bounce on the green and hoped it would kick left. I couldn’t see the golf ball.”

Troy Matteson also applauded Zach’s great approach;

“My hat’s off to Zach. He drove it in the bunker twice and figured out a way to win. It’s a great story, you know, home-town kid.”

Scott Piercy finished in third place with a last round -6 under par 65, for a good finish to his tournament.

I guess God was looking favorably on golf today as it has been said that giving golf to us was His way of getting a few laughs.

Steve Stricker said he had fun out there, besides coming up short in his record attempt of a fourth win;

” It was a lot of fun. A little disappointing on the back nine, but I put myself in the position on the front and was striking the ball nicely. Really struck it nicely all day except for those three drives at 14, 15, and 17. But other than that, my iron play was good and really couple little miss-putts there. Missed a little putt at 10 for birdie. But all in all it was a good week. A lot of fun. It was fun trying to do it. I gave it a rip and came up a few short, but it was fun trying. “