Zach Johnson hit 13 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation in the first round on Thursday.
By Craig DeVrieze, Special to PGATOUR.COM
SILVIS, Ill. – Zach Johnson picked up where he left off at the tournament he calls his hometown event.
The defending John Deere Classic champion matched his best round in 12 starts at TPC Deere Run, a 7-under 64 that gave him a share of the first-round lead.
“That doesn’t stink,” said Johnson, who grew up 90 minutes west of the Quad-Cities and has served as a player representative on the tournament board since 2005.
A nine-time winner on the PGA TOUR, Johnson is tied with Camilo Villegas, who needed only 26 putts to post a 64 of his own. They hold a one-shot lead over the trio of Brendon de Jonge, Daniel Summerhays and Matt Bettencourt.
Another 20 players are within three shots of the lead, including three-time John Deere Classic winner Steve Stricker and Davis Love III, who each carded rounds of 67 playing with Johnson in a featured morning threesome.
The 7,257-yard, par-71 D.A. Weibring-designed golf course yielded 91 subpar rounds, but showed some teeth in the afternoon, when only Kevin Streelman and Boo Weekley (66) could close to within two shots of the leaders.
With 41 wins between them, Johnson, Stricker and Love drew a sizable morning gallery as what is likely the most accomplished grouping in the tournament’s 43-year history.