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July 15 2012

12:55 AM

Matteson comfortable in underdog role

Interview: Troy Matteson

Following his third-round 66, Troy Matteson reflects on his play  with Doug Bell from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.

By Chris Dunham, PGATOUR.COM Troy Matteson is in position to become just the third wire-to-wire winner in the history of the John Deere Classic and the first on TOUR since Rory McIlroy at the 2011 U.S. Open yet he’s still flying under the radar. The 32-year-old two-time PGA TOUR winner shot a 5-under 66 Saturday to push his lead to three with just 18 holes to play. Among those in close pursuit, however, are three-time defending champion Steve Stricker and local favorite Zach Johnson, who have combined for 20 TOUR victories. “Nobody's really paying any attention to what I do,” Matteson said. “I'll just go about my business. When Steve plays good or Zach plays really good, just does so much for the tournament. Those are the main guys people remember.” Matteson is putting together his own week to remember at TPC Deere Run. He’s posted a field-leading 21 birdies against just three bogeys through 36 holes and leads the field in strokes gained - putting. He’s doing all of this while hitting a field-worst 54 percent of fairways. “I really didn't hit too many bad shots today, Matteson said. “I only hit a couple and I got away with 'em. Only made a couple bogeys. One was a smart bogey. One on 18 I just misjudged the putt going down the hill.  It's got a little baked out and it's easy to knock it by.” He could forgive himself for the late three-putt on a day in which he rolled in three putts of more than 10 feet including a 35-footer from the fringe on No. 13. Matteson knows he may need more of those long putts to protect and improve upon his 18-under tally on a course that has already yielded 1,580 birdies this week. “I think you still need to be aggressive,” he said. “It's anybody's tournament. I mean, a guy at 12 under could shoot 60, you know. You have to come up with a lot of under‑par shots, so I think that you have to play aggressive. … And that's what the John Deere does. That's what you need to do here.” After defeating Rickie Fowler and Jamie Lovemark in a playoff at the 2009 Frys.com Open (his last TOUR victory), Matteson knows what to expect from crowds that will likely be pulling for Stricker and Johnson on Sunday. He says he’s comfortable not being the guy the majority of the crowd is rooting for down the stretch on Sunday. And he’s comfortable with the two players who are expected to be receiving most of the cheers. “(Stricker’s) a great guy to play golf with,” Matteson said. “I would rather be paired with him than not. If I had to pick two or three guys to get paired with, couldn't go wrong with Zach or Steve, even if you're just playing golf on a Saturday somewhere. They're the kind of guys you want to hang around with.” Matteson hopes to be hanging with them after the round with the champions’ trophy in hand.
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