By Craig DeVrieze, Special to PGATOUR.COM
SILVIS, Ill. -- Martin Flores couldn’t remember if he brought his passport to the John Deere Classic.
He did his best to need it, though, with a closing round of 8-under 63 that put him in position for a come-from-behind victory that would book a berth in the Open Championship.
Flores, 31, eagled the par-5 second at TPC Deere Run and added six birdies to close to 18-under 266 for the tournament. That put him within a shot of on-course leader Zach Johnson, who was 19 under through 14 holes.
“Hopefully, a good finish here gets me in the British,” said Flores, who was unaware of a change that would require him to win to claim a spot in the field at Muirfield. “I would be real excited about that opportunity if it came.”
If it should, Martin would finish one shot back of the PGA TOUR record for best come-from-behind victory. He started the day nine back of third-round leader Daniel Summerhays. Paul Lawrie’s 10-shot rally for a win at the 1999 Open Championship is the standard for greatest comebacks.
Stewart Cink came from nine behind to win the 2004 RBC Heritage. Roger Maltbie’s 7-shot comeback at Oakwood Country Club in Coal Valley, Ill., in 1975 is the John Deere’s best previous comeback.
Flores had the leaders in his sights when he came to the course.
“I don’t really ever put a number in my head, but today I did,” he said. “I put 10 under just because I knew my game was solid.”
The 63 is his best round of the year and a T10 at the Valero Texas Open was his best previous 2013 finish. His top career finish is a sixth at The Greenbrier Classic last year.
“I did my best today, I’m happy with what I did,” he said. “I was super-pumped about how I struck the ball and how I got the ball in the hole. I’ve been working hard and finally the results came.”
Keegan Bradley is positive about The Open Championship despite struggling with his putting this week.
By Craig DeVrieze, Special to PGATOUR.COM
SILVIS, Ill. – Keegan Bradley likely would take a 6-under four-round total at the Open Championship this week at Muirfield, but that was only good for a bottom position at the annual birdie-fest known as the John Deere Classic.
Bradley overcame four bogeys and a double bogey with six birdies in a colorful closing round of 70. He was tied for 61st and his John Deere debut was complete well before the leaders took the first tee.
Nonetheless, the world’s 16th-ranked player said he felt ready as he waited to board a John Deere charter to Scotland later Sunday evening.
“I just wanted to work on my game today, just pretend like I had the lead on that last shot at 18 and some other shots,” he said. “I played well this week. I just didn’t putt very well.”
Bradley was among Sunday’s earliest starters after making the cut on the 4-under number and then enduring a 1-under day on Sunday.
He approached his round less with the John Deere in mind than he did the Open Championship. In reality, that was his stated approach to the whole week at TPC Deere Run.
“The reason I came here was to try and be sharp for the British Open, so whether I won or did what I did this week, this is going to be good for me,” said the 2011 PGA Championship winner, who previously had rested in weeks prior to major championships.
“The course and the golf is nothing like we’re going to see over there,” he conceded. “But I feel like anytime you play in competition, it helps you.”
Bradley will be one of 27 players on the direct flight from Moline, Ill., to Edinburgh, Scotland, that will depart hours after the final John Deere putt.
“That charter is so big for all of us,’’ he said. “It makes it so much easier. This is a solid way to prepare just because of the charter.”
He plans to get his first look at the Muirfield links course over nine Monday holes. But he said he will rely on caddie Steven “Pepsi” Hale’s previous experience at the course throughout the week.
“I feel ready to go and contend,” he said. “I am playing good golf. It’s just a matter of putting decent and I know it is coming.”
Canadian David Hearn and Wisconsin resident Jerry Kelly spent some time talking hockey on Saturday.
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
SILVIS, Ill -- When Daniel Summerhays left the course on Friday he was tied for fifth place. When he arrived at TPC Deere Run on Saturday morning, he wasn’t even in the top 10.
That may have been the best thing to happen to Summerhays because he said it put him in the proper frame of mind. He saw everyone else making birdies and knew he had to be aggressive. Summerhays’ attitude and ability collided on Saturday resulting in 10 birdies and one bogey. He leads the tournament in greens in regulation, is third in ball-striking and has missed a total of six greens for the week. Summerhays made a 51-foot birdie at the fourth hole. Everything broke his way in the third round. On Sunday, we find out if Summerhays can give us a repeat performance.
Bombs away: Zach Johnson made 102 feet in putts on just two holes. He rolled home a 60-foot eagle at the second and a 42-foot birdie on the 14th hole. In between, he also made his first two bogeys of the tournament. Despite those impressive efforts, Johnson’s biggest putt might have come at the final hole where he made a 12-footer for par. That putt kept him at 16 under, three shots off the lead and put him in the penultimate grouping. Johnson is close enough to still win this tournament.
Amateur hour: What a day for Patrick Rodgers. The amateur from Stanford made a 57-foot birdie at the 12th to momentarily take the lead. His Dad, Charlie, whipped out a camera and took pictures of the leaderboard with his son in first place. Rodgers’ caddie is Tom Maples, who was both the basketball and golf coach for Rodgers in high school. The excitement might have been too much as Rodgers made all pars coming in until a bogey at the 18th.
Tee markers: Tournament officials mark each day’s tee locations with miniature John Deere tractors. They are very popular markers. Too popular. Those little tractors have been known to suddenly disappear, so a volunteer follows the final group each day and diligently collects those little tractors.
Casual conversation: David Hearn and Jerry Kelly were pleasantly engaged in conversation throughout the round. The topic of conversation: Hockey. Hearn is from Brampton, Ontario and loves hockey as does Kelly. Discussion of power plays and slap shots kept both diverted enough to enjoy the round without worrying about their totals. The conversation was good and so was the golf. Hearn shot 64 and Kelly carded a 66. Hearn leads the tournament in putts per green and yet was the last player on the practice putting green late Saturday evening.
Preshot: Zach Johnson is having one of his better putting weeks of the year and it’s because he’s “trying easier.” Johnson ranks seventh in strokes gained-putting this week but is 101st in that category for the season. Why the difference? Johnson says he had become too mechanical in his putting and is trying to be less technical and more athletic. That’s the same attitude Bill Hass had when he won AT&T National two weeks ago.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here
By Craig DeVrieze Special to PGATOUR.COM
SILVIS, Ill. – Daniel Summerhays will try a different approach than most in pursuit of his first PGA TOUR victory. He'll be focusing on the John Deere Classic atmosphere just as much as the task at hand.
The 29-year-old third-year pro from Utah buried 149 feet worth of birdie putts en route to a boisterous, fan-friendly round of 9-under 62 on Saturday, good enough to build a two-shot lead over veteran David Hearn going into the final round of the John Deere Classic.
Hearn also will be searching for his first career win on TOUR.
Summerhays’ 19-under score also gave him a three-shot cushion over defending champion Zach Johnson.
“I hope they are intimidated, but I doubt that’s going to be the case – I’m not a very intimidating figure,” said Johnson, who will have the advantage of having won nine times on the PGA TOUR, as well as his status as the hometown fan favorite.
Summerhays, who is coming off a T9 at The Greenbrier Classic last week, may mitigate Johnson’s hometown popularity with an outside-himself approach to playing inside the ropes.
“I putted well, drove the ball well and had a lot of fun interacting with the crowd,” he said. “I try to do that a lot with the kids, the fans, everything. That’s kind of my mantra. It’s not about me. It’s about everybody else. It’s about them having a good time.”
In that, he conceded, is an element of reverse psychology that helps him deal with inevitable ebb and flow of golf career and a golf round.
“It actually relaxes me,” he said. “Everybody says, ‘Stay focused.’ Well, that actually makes me more nervous. It actually calms me down when I can look people in the eyes out in the crowd, give people the thumbs up, give a kid a high-five.
“That calms me down, and I think there’s something to that in life, I really do. Get outside yourself and you’ll find more confidence, more peace, more tranquility.”
The lead twosome will benefit from a comfortable pairing. Hearn is a Summerhays fan and vice-versa.
“We'll have a fun time out there tomorrow and keep making birdies and see what happens,” Hearn said.
Veterans J.J. Henry and Jerry Kelly will start the final round four shots out of the lead and the trio of Nicholas Thompson, Chris Kirk and Matt Jones trail by five.
With low numbers being the norm at TPC Deere Run – Saturday’s scoring average was 68.236 – Johnson said the only safe approach is to not play safe.
“My guess is they are going to come out firing, and I don’t know why they wouldn’t,” he said of the final twosome. “I mean, every year at John Deere it takes a lot of birdies to win.”
By Craig DeVrieze, Special to PGATOUR.COM
SILVIS, Ill. – A long-coveted hometown win already is in his pocket, but defending champion Zach Johnson won’t go into the final round of the John Deere Classic feeling like he is playing with house money.
A year ago, Johnson rallied from four shots behind and emerged as a playoff winner in the tournament he has called his fifth major.
He will start Sunday’s final round three shots behind third-round leader Daniel Summerhays, but he said he won’t take a free-wheeling, nothing-to-lose approach as a result of having already etched his name on the John Deere trophy.
“I don’t think so,” said Johnson, who grew up 90 minutes west of the Quad-Cities in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “If there is anything I am going to put in my pocket it’s the fact that I know I can do it here on Sunday.
“More than that, though, having a good day tomorrow, whether I win or lose, is going to be big in the grand scheme of things. Big-picture, year-end things.”
Primarily, those things would be improving his position for the FedExCup Playoffs and making a push to win a spot on the U.S. Presidents Cup side.
A sub-standard first half of the year has left the nine-time PGA TOUR winner in 75th place in the FedExCup standings as the stretch run to the FedExCup Playoffs approaches.
He will play in four of the next five events, with an eye on being one of 30 players to tee it up in the TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola. A family obligation during the first week of the Playoffs at The Barclays added urgency to moving up the FedExCup standings.
He stands 14th on the Presidents Cup list and is bidding for his third turn on the U.S. team since 2007.
His 2012 win here does feed his confidence.
“Certainly, I’m going to embrace some of those feelings that I had last year,” he said. “What I do remember from last year was that Sunday was a complete day of patience. I got off to a pretty slow start, parred the first six or seven holes and shot 6 under.
“I feel like tomorrow is a day that I have got to stay in the present and I feel like I am in a good place to do that.”
Jordan Spieth will be shooting for his sixth top-10 finish of the season on Sunday at the John Deere Classic.
By Craig DeVrieze, Special for PGATOUR.COM
SILVIS, Ill. – Only a victory will earn Jordan Spieth a berth in the FedExCup Playoffs, but the 19-year-old Texan won’t take a winning-is-the-only-thing attitude into Sunday’s final round of the John Deere Classic.
Thanks to top-five finishes in a third of his 15 starts, Spieth would rank 56th in the FedExCup points race if he had full-fledged TOUR status. But playing on special temporary member status, he can punch his Playoffs ticket only by claiming a TOUR card with a win.
Despite a second straight 6-under 65 on Saturday and a 13-under total through three rounds, Spieth will start the final round six shots behind third-round leader Daniel Summerhays.
He’ll be gunning to run the leader down, he said, but he won’t take the first tee with an all-or-nothing mindset.
“Obviously, if you win here you get to go next week and play in a major championship,” he said of The Open Championship berth available to an otherwise non-qualified winner. “But the PGA Championship is coming up too, and I am borderline on getting into that. It’s not like if I don’t get first, I don’t care if I’m 30th. I want to get out there and play a solid round.”
Still, the FedExCup Playoffs remain a goal.
“It would be nice to have those four events at the end of the year that everyone else has,” he said. “Unfortunately, I don’t have them as of now, but they’re events left for me to try. I would love to have that chance tomorrow.”
Spieth stressed his early success hasn’t gone to his head.
“It’s easy to stay grounded when you get to play against the players out here, like Zach Johnson who seems like he can’t shoot less than 6 under,” he said. “It’s easy when you are around the best players in the world. I am humbled every week by the guys’ talent.”