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.”