SILVIS, ILLINOIS | A hometown hero’s welcome
was ringing across the 18th green Sunday for
Iowa native and presumptive winner Zach Johnson when he heard a sudden, competing wave
of cheers one hole back.
A dramatic 60-foot eagle by third-round
leader Troy Matteson would set up an eventual
playoff, but Johnson would produce a stunning
shot of his own on the second extra hole to win
the John Deere Classic.
Bunkered on the left side of the fairway for the
second time in a row on TPC Deere Run’s 463-
yard par- 4 18th, Johnson drilled his 6-iron approach shot 194 yards to within a foot of the hole.
“I think we’re stating the obvious,” Johnson
said. “That was really good. That was my shot
of the week.”
His tap-in birdie gave him his ninth PGA Tour
victory, courtesy of his best career comeback. He
trailed Matteson by four strokes to start the final
day, and by overcoming that deficit he bested the
three-stroke comeback he used to win the 2007
AT&T Classic in Atlanta ... also over Matteson.
His second title of 2012 (after winning at
Colonial in May) yielded an $828,000 payday
and resulted in a jump to second place in the
FedEx Cup standings, just 32 points behind
leader Tiger Woods.
“It is (very emotional),” he said of winning
his “hometown” event, for which he serves as a
board member. “This tournament means a lot
to me, a lot to my family. And it means a lot to
the PGA Tour.”
For Matteson, there was one very tangible
consolation prize. By reaching the playoff, he
earned the final spot in the field for this week’s
Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
Scott Piercy was third at 18 under, and Aussie John Senden was another stroke back in
Johnson birdied Nos. 13 and 14 to get to
within a stroke of Matteson, then picked up the
lead when the seventh-year pro made double-bogey on his 15th hole.
Johnson’s 15-foot putt from the fringe on
No. 18 would have placed him at 21 under and
avoided the playoff, but it slid inches to the left.
Both players had found water and made double-bogey on a back-and-forth first playoff hole.
It was the first playoff at the event since
2008, which also was the last time any player
other than Steve Stricker had won at Quad Cities. Kenny Perry used two extra holes that year
to beat Jay Williamson and Brad Adamonis.
Stricker was in contention on the final day, but
struggled on the back nine and shot 1 under to
finish at 16 under overall in a fifth-place tie with
fellow University of Illinois alumnus Luke Guthrie.