By Craig DeVrieze, Special for PGATOUR.COM
SILVIS, Ill. -- With a series of stealthy par saves, defending champion Zach Johnson set a John Deere Classic record with his ninth career bogey-free round at TPC Deere Run and will enter the weekend with a share of the lead.
A two-putt par from 72 feet at the 18th hole completed a 5-under second-round 66 for the 2007 Masters champion from nearby Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“Today was a hard 66,” he said. “Yesterday was a much easier 64.”
Johnson joined PGA TOUR rookie Patrick Reed and 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover in the midway lead at 12-under 130 for the tournament.
Matt Jones, a co-runner-up a week ago at The Greenbrier Classic, is alone in fourth, one shot behind the lead trio.
Troy Matteson, a playoff loser to Johnson a year ago at TPC Deere Run, is part of a quintet two shots behind. He is joined at 10 under by Kevin Streelman, Jerry Kelly, Daniel Summerhays and David Hearn.
Three-time JDC winner Steve Sticker missed a 2 1/2-foot par putt at the finishing hole, or he too would have entered the weekend double-digits under par.
Johnson’s round included five birdies, but more critical were par saves at Nos. 5, 6, 7, 15 and 18.
“I didn’t drive it very well but the positive side is I know I can play here if I don’t drive it,” he said. “My short game was tremendous. I putted great and I chipped it even better.”
Fighting through a run of five missed cuts in his past six starts, Glover fired an afternoon round of 9-under 62 to join the lead group.
“I’ve been struggling,” he said. “I was ecstatic to shoot 3-under yesterday. You can imagine how I feel today.”
By Craig DeVrieze, Special to PGATOUR.COM
SILVIS, Ill. -- There’s a lot Troy Matteson admires about the golf course his former college teammate’s dad drew up on an old horse farm fast by the Rock River.
Friday, he very much appreciated the meandering walk from TPC Deere Run’s No. 3 green to its No. 4 tee.
Matteson scored his seventh career ace, his fifth in PGA TOUR competition and his second at TPC Deere Run at the typically testy uphill par-3 third at the D.A. Weibring-designed golf course. He flushed a pitching wedge from 132 yards from the most generous of the hole’s four tee blocks.
Matteson’s vast hole-in-one experience tells him an ace can throw off the equilibrium of a golf round. “Sometimes going to that next tee, it’s hard to settle yourself down,” he said.
Thanks to the long green-to-tee walk, coupled with the sparseness of the early-morning gallery, there was no such problem Friday.
Matteson went on to post a 7-under 64 to climb into contention for a second straight year. He lost a playoff to Zach Johnson a year ago, after holding the lead after each of the first three rounds. It was his third top 10 finish in seven John Deere starts.
Any wonder Matt Weibring’s former Georgia Tech teammate is huge fan of TPC Deere Run?
Matteson said he shared that appreciation with the course designer when he played a few holes with both Weibrings earlier this year.
“He’s glad that guys like the course,” Matteson said of the senior Weibring. “As a designer, that’s the biggest compliment you can get is people saying ‘This is a fun course.’’’
Matteson would love to have more fun this weekend. He is in the midst of a challenging year, having missed more cuts (11) than he has made (now nine).
A two-time winner in his eight years on TOUR, Matteson well understands the up-and-down nature of the game.
Interestingly, he said he has no regrets about last year’s missed opportunity here. That’s largely, he said, because he knows the native Iowan Johnson’s “hometown” win was good for both the tournament and the TOUR.
“Obviously, you want to win anytime you get a chance, and it’s nice to be the story,” he said. “But at the same time, there are bigger things in motion. … A lot of people come to this tournament to watch Zach, to watch Steve Stricker. They’re not buying tickets to watch guys like me.
“I do think it was the best thing for the tournament.”
By Craig DeVrieze, Special to PGATOUR.COM
Make that two Wisconsonites who will forsake next week’s Open Championship.
Steve Stricker, the 11th-ranked player in the world, announced his intentions to skip the year's third major when he set a limited schedule at the start of the year. He will celebrate his 20th anniversary with his wife, Nikki, in north woods of Wisconsin instead.
Now, fellow Madison, Wis., resident Jerry Kelly has his mindset on forsaking the John Deere charter jet, even if he claims the final spot in the British Open by winning this week.
Kelly, who moved onto the John Deere leaderboard with a 7-under second-round 64, said he didn’t bring his passport because he plans to head from Silvis to Nashville, Tenn., to watch his son Cooper pitch in a national 14-and-under baseball tournament next week.
“He would probably tell me to go,” Kelly said of his son. “But it would be really hard.”
By Craig DeVrieze, Special to PGATOUR.COM
SILVIS, Ill. – Patrick Reed used the word “we” 35 times in discussing the 8-under 63 he rode to the top of the John Deere Classic leaderboard on Friday morning.
That’s a testament to the high esteem in which the PGA TOUR rookie holds his caddie.
Of course Justine Reed thinks pretty highly of her man as well.
“It’s definitely a team,” Patrick said of the husband-wife/golfer-caddie combo that even has a website call goteamreed.com. “I mean, she helps me with everything. I never check the wind. She tells me what the wind is. 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.”
But if Team Reed should grow?
“You’re going to see us basically forever,” the golfer said. “Or until we decide to have a family, and at that point she’ll be off the bag I’d say for three or four months, and then she’ll be back on.”
Mrs. Reed’s read on that? “Makes me feel appreciated for sure,” she said. “I like the way he thinks, but when that happens, we’ll just stay in the moment.”
Patrick Reed managed to stay in the moment fairly well over the course of a 1-over opening nine on Thursday, when he couldn’t quite figure out the speed of the TPC Deere Run greens. After making the turn with 15 putts, he said, “I almost felt like I was going to beat myself with my putter if I didn’t adjust,” he said.
Adjust he did. Team Reed has navigated their ensuing 27 holes with just 34 putts. Justine Reed didn’t even have to hand her man the putter on the par 5 17th on Friday. He chipped in from 37 feet en route to a round of 63 that matched his best career score.
They also played the first two rounds with Billy Mayfair, whose wife Tammy is caddying for him.
Team Reed has been on a bit of a roll since switching to Callaway clubs and balls at the HP Byron Nelson Classic. A fifth-place finish at the FedEx St. Jude Classic a month ago was the best of Reed’s young career and a pair of 66s to open the Travelers sent him into the weekend in the lead pack.
Playing in their second John Deere Classic, Team Reed will look to finish the job this weekend. And should they make it to the winner’s circle, Mr. and Mrs. Reed can settle on the caddie’s share of the $828,000 winner’s check while flying to The Open Championship in the John Deere Classic supplied.
“I can’t answer that question,” Justine Reed said when asked if she is in for standard caddie’s 10 percent. “According to Dicky Pride, I get 100 percent.”
A year ago, Patrick Reed missed the cut at the John Deere Classic.
Friday? He made seven birdies and an eagle on his way to a 63 and a one-shot lead through 36 holes at TPC Deere Run.
Australia's Matt Jones is a shot back, while four others are two off the pace.
A win by Reed would not only lock up his TOUR card for the next two years, it would get him into next week's pen Championship.
He has plenty of company, though, with 15 players within five shots of the lead and the afternoon wave still on the golf course.
The 63 is Reed's best round of the year, bettering a third-round 64 he shot in Memphis last month.
Overnight co-leaders Zach Johnson and Camilo Villegas are already looking up the leaderboard and the morning wave hasn't even finished at TPC Deere Run.
Will they be able to make a run at the lead this afternoon? Here's a closer look at who and what to watch for this afternoon (all times ET):
Zach Johnson, 1:45 p.m.: The defending champion got of to a good start with a 64 in the opening round but will have to play catch up, which shouldn't be much of a problem. He's recorded 17 straight rounds in the 60s there and his last eight rounds there have been bogey free.
Steve Stricker, 1:45 p.m.: The three-time John Deere Classic champion continues to play well on a limited schedule, but he'll need something lower than another 67 to sniff the lead going into the weekend here.
Davis Love III, 1:45 p.m.: Two weeks ago, Love withdrew from the AT&T National with a hip injury after an opening-round 83. The following week he tied for ninth at The Greenbrier Classic. He's in decent shape again after a 67 Thursday.
Jordan Spieth, 2:25 p.m.: The 19-year-old is in danger of missing the cut after an opening-round 1-under 70. The projected cut is currently 2 under. It's already been a successful season for Spieth, however, who has locked up his card for next season.
Camilo Villegas, 2:45 p.m.: Like Johnson, Villegas will have some catching up to do despite opening with a 64. That said, the last time Villegas opened with a 64, he followed it with a 77 the next day and missed the cut at The Honda Classic earlier this year.