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.”