By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
NORTON, Mass. -- Chez Reavie has been here, done this. All year, in fact.
The Arizona State product has spent the better part of the 2011 season playing on a major medical exemption after having reconstructive surgery on his right knee a year ago in June. He had 12 starts to earn just over $673,000 and match the man who finished 125th on the money list last year -- which would have made Reavie fully exempt for the rest of the year.
He didn't make it but Reavie has played the rest of the season out of the 126-150 category on the money list. He says it seemed like every couple of weeks he had another deadline -- which is not unlike the situation everyone faces in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
"So it's more of the same for me this year," Reavie said. "I might be the only guy in the field who's used to not knowing if I'm in next week."
Of course, Reavie is on the verge of all-but guaranteeing his spot at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola with another good round at TPC Boston. He'll start the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship one shot off the lead after a 68 on Sunday moved him to 10 under.
Reavie entered the second Playoffs event ranked 87th in the FedExCup and needing to move into the top 70 to make the field for the BMW Championship in two weeks. He's currently projected 27th with one more important round remaining.
"I'm going to play tomorrow the way I've played all year,'
Reavie said. "I'm just going to go play. At the beginning of the
year when I had the 12 events and I had to make a certain amount, I
was thinking a lot about how much money I had made and how much
money I needed, and then it just wasn't working. I wasn't playing
well. I was stressed out.
"So it got me into this state of mind to just go play golf, and I'll finish where I finish."
Chris Kirk is one of four rookies now inside the top 30 in the FedExCup standings thanks to his victory at last week’s Viking Classic. The others are Charl Schwartzel, Keegan Bradley and Jhonattan Vegas.
While Kirk became the 10 th winner in his 20s to win on the PGA TOUR last week, though, the RBC Canadian Open has favored the establishment in recent years -- only three winners since 2000 have been under the age of 30 (Tiger Woods in 2000, John Rollins in 2002 and Chez Reavie in 2008).
Speaking of Reavie, who got his first career win at this event, he seems to have re-captured his form after undergoing ACL surgery on his right knee in June 2010. He missed the remainder of last year and has played on a combination of medical extension and past champion status this year. But his recent finishes include a tie for fifth at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial and a tie for fifth at the John Deere Classic, where he posted a career-best 62 in the second round. He’s currently 91 st in the FedExCup standings, so another strong finish this week would go a long way.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Through eight holes Saturday, Chez Reavie was in no-man’s land at the John Deere Classic.
He was 1 over, walking off the eighth green after a three-putt. Steve Stricker, the two-time defending champion, was off to the races again at TPC Deere Run. Brendon de Jonge was on his way to a 63. Others were also finding plenty of birdies.
If he didn’t turn things around in the final 10 holes, his week would be ruined – a week that included a Friday 62.
Starting on the 13th hole, Reavie righted the ship, birdieing four of the last six to shoot a 3-under 68 that looked unlikely coming off the eighth green.
“You know, we fought hard today. Front side was tough,” Reavie said. “The front nine was long and started making a few putts in the back, so it was fun.
“I started feeling a little better about it, and I think I just ended up in better spots. I felt like I hit some shots on the front nine that didn't end up in the best spots, and you know, I shot 1‑over. That three‑putt on 8 was tough. I was in a divot there in the fairway and managed to keep it on the green and then to give away a shot, but I had a good two‑putt at 9 which gave me a little momentum and then got it going.”
Reavie’s only regret was not getting it going enough for a spot in the final group, which he coveted for the chance to play with Stricker.
“I was actually hoping to play with Steve. He’s a great guy and he’s a great player and he has great rhythm out there, and he’s just a nice guy. So I'm a little disappointed.”
But not too disappointed. He’s three shots behind Stricker, which might be doable come Sunday if Saturday’s late-round magic returns.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
There are players who are successful at certain courses, and then there are players who own a place. Think of Tiger Woods at Bay Hill and Phil Mickelson at TPC Scottsdale, adopted or native sons who rewarded already-adoring fans with dominating efforts on multiple occasions.
Now think of Steve Stricker at TPC Deere Run.
Already a fan favorite with his Wisconsin background, Stricker has moved to another level thanks to his two consecutive wins at the John Deere Classic. A third could be in store tomorrow, should he hold on to the two-shot lead he’ll take into the final round after a Saturday 63, his finest round of the week.
Midwesterners love Stricker for his great play – arguably the loudest roars at TPC Deere Run have been his, such as when a 75-foot birdie putt on the first hole Saturday was said to have had players backing off their putts on other holes.
They also love his modest acknowledgment of it all.
“I don't feel like a rock star. It's not a distraction by any means, no,” he said. “You know, I get a lot of support here, a lot of well wishes. You know, I see a lot of familiar faces, a lot of people I've gotten a lot of tickets for people to come down this week.”
It’s his people, his course, and with one more strong round, his place in history. Only nine players have won the same PGA TOUR event three years running since World War II (Woods won four straight years at Bay Hill and Jack Nicklaus three straight years at Disney World, just to name two), an elite list that Stricker can crack Sunday evening.
At his place.
“You know, it's fun. It's fun to play. I feel pretty relaxed out there to tell you the truth, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow,” Stricker said. “It's going to be tough. You know, there's going to be guys that will come out of the blocks shooting probably lights out right away, and I'm going to have to continue to do what I've been doing the first three days.”
That’s true. Brendon de Jonge fired his own 63 to keep Stricker in sight and will get to look directly at him in the final group Sunday. In the second-to-last group will be Chez Reavie, a TOUR winner who showed a lot of poise in turning a mediocre round into a 3 under round in the closing holes Saturday, and a rookie in Kyle Stanley who has shot steady rounds of 65-67-65.
Should Stricker fend them off and anyone else who might drop an ultra-low round at a course that has seen a 59, he’ll have the three-peat. He’s just not thinking that way.
“Like I said, I haven't really given it much thought, but it would mean a lot. You know, like I told some other reporters, it's hard enough to win an event three times let alone three in a row,” Stricker said. “It'll be tough tomorrow, and you gotta fight through those nerves and everything, but it would mean a lot. It would be pretty special to be a part of that list.”
And pretty special to do it at TPC Deere Run.
Through eight holes Saturday at the John Deere Classic, Chez Reavie appeared to be playing himself out of contention. He made two bogeys in a three-hole stretch while Steve Stricker was pouring in birdies.
But give the 29-year-old credit for a late rally, with four birdies in his last six holes to close a round of 3-under 68 – not as low as he would have liked on moving day, but certainly better than it would have appeared earlier in the day.
Reavie is in solo third place at 17 under, three shots behind Stricker, and will play in the penultimate group Sunday with Kyle Stanley, who shot 65 Saturday.
Chez Reavie started the day with the lead at the John Deere Classic but hasn’t been able to keep it.
Reavie is 1 over for his round, unable to build on an opening-hole birdie at TPC Deere Run. On the par-4 sixth hole he missed the green with his approach and bogeyed, then on the par-4 eighth hole he three-putted from 55 feet.
With Steve Stricker just making birdie at the par-5 10th hole to get to 18 under, Reavie is now five shots back.
CBS coverage of the John Deere Classic is about to get under way, and Steve Stricker is right where most expected him – on top of the leaderboard.
Stricker birdied three of his first four holes, kicked off by a 75-foot birdie putt on the first at TPC Deere Run, to pull into a tie with Chez Reavie at 15 under. He just birdied the seventh while Reavie bogeyed the sixth, giving Stricker a two-shot lead at 16 under.
Brendon de Jonge, steady earlier in the year on TOUR but in a bit of a slump for the last two months, is making a Saturday charge. He’s 4 under through 7 holes and 14 under for the tournament.
What is it about this event and Steve Stricker?
The two-time defending champion at the John Deere Classic started his third round with a birdie at the first hole off a 75-foot, 4-inch putt. Not bad.
No one’s handing him a third trophy, however. The hot putter Chez Reavie enjoyed on Friday has returned Saturday, at least on the first hole as he sank a 26-foot birdie putt.
Chez Reavie and Steve Marino have started their third rounds at TPC Deere Run. What’s at stake for them if they can end the weekend on top? Plenty.
For Reavie, a win would be his second on TOUR, the first coming at the 2008 RBC Canadian Open. He entered this season on a major medical exemption after reconstructive knee surgery last year and has 13 events to earn $673,983. So far, he’s earned $489,036.
He’s $184,947 away from fully-exempt status the rest of the season, so coming up just shy of first place at the John Deere Classic would still be huge.
For Marino, 22nd in FedExCup points, status isn’t the issue. It’s all about getting the monkey off his back and finally getting a first TOUR win. He has four career second-place finishes in 134 starts and is arguably the best player without a win.
The leaders are about an hour away from starting their third rounds at the John Deere Classic. They could find a more difficult TPC Deere Run for moving day.
Among the early players there are no eye-popping scores or surges up the leaderboard. Michael Putnam and John Merrick each shot 67, while Will MacKenzie has a 5-under round going with five holes remaining. He’s up to 10 under for the tournament. Good stuff but nothing quite like Chez Reavie’s Friday 62 or the several 64s shot so far this week.
Asked yesterday to assess the greens, Steve Marino said they are a touch firmer and, consequently, more difficult. Saturday’s dry conditions with temperatures in the upper 80s should continue that trend.
“It’s making it play just a little bit more difficult,” Marino said Friday after his 66. “I mean, they’re not super-firm by any stretch, but you know, I’ve definitely played softer greens. I think they’re about perfect for scoring.”
Whether that’s a super-low score like we’ve seen in previous years of the John Deere Classic remains to be seen.