Daily Wrap-up: John Deere Classic, Round 1July 11, 2013
By PGATOUR.COM wire services
SILVIS, Ill. -- Defending champion Zach Johnson shot a 7-under 64 to share the lead with Camilo Villegas after Thursday's opening round of the John Deere Classic.
It was the 17th straight round in the 60s at TPC Deere Run for Johnson, who grew up in nearby Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Matt Bettencourt made the field as a late alternate and shot a 6-under 65 to hold a share of the third spot with Daniel Summerhays and Brendon de Jonge.
Boo Weekley is among a pack of players at 5-under 66, while three-time tournament champion Steve Stricker is at 4-under 67 heading into Friday's second round.
Johnson, who was second in 2009 and third in 2011 before winning last year, avoided bogeys while picking up birdies on five par 4s on Thursday.
"It just feels so natural now," Johnson said. "It just feels very, very comfortable, much like my golf game -- though I don't want to get overly content with the fact that I'm overly comfortable. So I've still got to go to work."
Villegas was also very comfortable on a course that proved player-friendly in the morning session. He converted a pair of par-3 birdie putts to highlight a strong day on the greens.
"Made some great putts and just kept out of trouble. The golf course is a little receptive, and you could be aggressive," Villegas said. "I was very pleased with the way I handled myself out there. It was nice, relaxed."
Stricker entered the tournament as a co-favorite with Johnson, having won at TPC Deere Run from 2009-11. Stricker quickly showed why he's considered the man the rest of the field could be chasing this weekend.
He just couldn't keep it going for 18 holes.
De Jonge began his day with one of the best shots of the tournament so far, holing out from 88 yards for an eagle on the par-5 10th hole. But Stricker matched him on No. 10 just 20 minutes later -- chipping in from 83 yards out.
The most unlikely name among Thursday's leaders had to be Bettencourt's.
Sensing this week's field would be full, Bettencourt booked a flight to Salt Lake City for this weekend's Web.com Tour event. But as he was sitting on a plane in Atlanta, the PGA TOUR office called to tell him that he was eligible to replace Neal Lancaster.
Bettencourt was stuck with a flight to Utah regardless. But he then flew straight to Chicago, rented a car and arrived in the Quad Cities just before midnight.
Bettencourt didn't need any practice time though. He shot his best round at Deere Run since also opening the 2009 tournament with a 65.
"Fortunately I know the golf course, pretty much know the setup, been here enough times," Bettencourt said. "I love this golf course. It's a lot of fun, so I was really excited the entire flight to Chicago and kind of (on) adrenaline I guess."
TPC Deere Run: Round 1 Easiest hole Toughest hole
The par-5 second was the easiest with a Thursday scoring average of 4.513.
EAGLES: 0 | BIRDIES: 83 | PARS: 67 | BOGEYS: 5 | OTHERS: 1
The par-4 ninth hole was the toughest with a Thursday scoring average of 4.206.
EAGLES: 0 | BIRDIES: 7 | PARS: 97 | BOGEYS: 50 | OTHERS: 2
About the leaders: Zach Johnson, Camilo Villegas • Zach Johnson, the defending champion, is making his 12th consecutive start in this event. He has made the cut nine times previously and has finished T2, T21, T3 and first in his last four appearances.
• Johnson’s 64 today marks his 17th consecutive round in the 60s at TPC Deere Run, starting with the opening round in 2009. • Johnson’s 7-under 64 today matches his best start in this tournament. He opened with a 64 in 2006 but followed up with rounds of 72-70-69 and wound up T33. • Johnson has made the cut in 12 of 16 starts this year. His only top-10 finish was a solo third at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, where he was also the defending champion. • Johnson’s bogey-free round was his eighth at TPC Deere Run, which ties him with Kevin Sutherland for the most in tournament history. • Johnson has held/shared the first-round lead five times previously in his career. The first time came at the 2006 John Deere Classic when he also posted a 7-under 64. He went on to finish T15. The last time he was leading after day one was the 2012 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, when he shot a 5-under 65 and later went to win the tournament. • Camilo Villegas is making his fifth career start in this event. He has made three cuts in four previous starts with his best finish a T47 in 2006. His round of 64 today is his best to date at TPC Deere Run. • Villegas cashed his first PGA TOUR paycheck at this event in 2004. After missing the cut at the U.S. Open and the Cialis Western Open, Villegas received a sponsor exemption into the tournament and carded scores of 71-68-68-74 to finish T59 and collect a check for $8,284.00. • Villegas has made the cut in 10 of 16 starts this year. His best week’s came at the RBC Heritage (T9) and the FedEx St. Jude Classic (T10). He is currently No. 102 in the FedExCup standings. • Villegas has held/shared the first-round lead seven times previously in his career. He has converted only one of those chances into victory – 2008 BMW Championship. The last time he was at the top of the first-day leaderboard was at The Honda Classic earlier this year.