66 Is 66: Johnson In Final Group At John Deere
By Mike Hlas (Story) and Josh Christensen (Video), Reporters
SILVIS, Ill. A golfer can spend more time in the sand than David Hasselhoff and do more scrambling than a breakfast cook, but a 66 is a 66.
And, a share of first-place is a share of first-place.
So it is for Zach Johnson, who went from taking straight lines to a first-round share of the John Deere Classic lead Thursday with a 64 to making pars from different places and angles on Friday for a 66 that kept him tied for first.
Three times, Johnson made sand-saves for pars. He went from fairway bunker to greenside bunker on No. 5, then made a 6-foot putt for the par-save. He went from fairway rough to greenside rough on No. 6, but then had a tap-in for par after his chip from 36 feet.
At No. 7, he made a 6-foot par putt for a third-straight sweet save. That kept him at 1-under for his round, not a great pace at this birdie-fest of a tourney. But critically, he had never gone backward with his score. When he chipped in from 17 feet just off the 8th green, he began a charge back up the leaderboard that was set up by his earlier scrambling.
"My short game was tremendous," Johnson said. "I putted great. I chipped it probably even better.
"So today was a day of just hanging in there and letting things come. But I like the fact that I don't have to be perfect and I can still play here."
Johnson's 36-hole total of 12-under-par 130 has him tied with Patrick Reed and Lucas Glover for the lead. It's actually three shots better than his 36-hole score of last year here, when he won the tourney in a playoff after finishing regulation in 20-under.
This was Johnson's ninth bogey-free JDC round, and second in as many days this year. Thursday, he hit 13 of the 14 fairways. Friday, it was just seven. There is more than one way to go low.
"But I would much rather have a boring, easy 5-under than a roller coaster 5-under, if you will," Johnson said.
However, it wasn't as if he didn't play high-quality golf, again. Thirty-six holes, 12 birdies, no bogeys, case closed.
"I'm just comfortable," he said. "I'm comfortable with every tee shot, I'm comfortable with every wind, and clearly I'm comfortable on the greens.
"I've worked so hard on my fundamentals, and the patience side of it has certainly been key. You hear the saying 'I'm just not scoring.' Well, I'm finally starting to score."
This wasn't a TPC Deere Run bunker, but it might as well have been
But this deal is only half-over. Nine players are with in two shots of the lead, and three-time JDC champion Steve Stricker is one of five players who are a mere three back.
Glover won the 2009 U.S. Open. He shot a 62 Friday. Reed is a 22-year-old Tour rookie who had a second-round 63 Both lean golf-wise on the counsel of their wives.
"I had planned on taking this week off and heading over to the Open Championship tomorrow," Glover said Friday. "I got done at the Greenbrier after playing poorly, and my wife said 'I think you ought to go (to the JDC), and I said 'I'm glad you said that because I was thinking the same thing.' I've had good success there and have good vibes there."
Reed's caddie is his wife, Justine Reed.
"I never check wind," Patrick Reed said. "She tells me what the wind is. She's always right on that.
"Most of the time she helps me pick most of my clubs. She seems to know my distances better than I do. ... She's great at reading putts, so I kind of have the full package. It's definitely not an "I," it's definitely a 'we' for us. "
Plus, he doesn't have to give his wife the standard 10 percent players pay caddies. Or does he?
"According to (Tour player) Dicky Pride," Justine Reed said, "I get 100 percent."
On that note, I'll tell you that Johnson and Reed will play in Saturday's final twosome, with a 12:40 p.m. tee time.