By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
SILVIS, Ill -- There are plenty of golfers leaving the Quad Cities saying, “Shoot, I could have gotten it to 19 under.” Many players teed off thinking it would take 25 under to win but the course dramatically changed on Sunday. It was by far the hottest day of the week. As the heat baked the greens the putting surfaces became much firmer and it was hard to judge the line of putts in the late afternoon at the John Deere Classic.
Prom: I first met Jordan Spieth three years ago at the HP Byron Nelson Championship when we wondered if Spieth’s good play and late tee time would allow him to make his high school prom. You could always see his talent and ability but Spieth would waste shots during a round, at times making bogeys with wedges into greens. Well, the teenager closed with five birdies on his final nine holes including an improbable hole out from the greenside bunker on the 18th. In Spieth’s words, “I got so lucky. I bounced balls off trees and that one hop hole out from the bunker. … I can’t believe it.” Every winner receives good breaks but the John Deere Classic is where good luck and talent collided on the same axis for Spieth.
Zach attack: Zach Johnson had control of the tournament when his putter went not just cold but frigid. Headed to the final nine, with the lead, you figured birdies at both par 5s and the drivable 14th would be enough to win. That reasoning was correct but Johnson hit a terrible wedge into the 10th and made par, then could not get up and down at the 14th. He did manage to birdie the 17th but that was with a two-putt after hitting the par 5 in two shots. Johnson had several other birdie opportunities before a bad hop into the fairway bunker on the 72nd hole was followed by a bad lie in the greenside rough, leading to bogey and the eventual playoff loss. Johnson seemed to hit good putts but chose the wrong lines, perhaps due to the change in firmness and speed of the greens.
Missed opportunity: Every player has a sad story to tell but David Hearn might be at the top of the list. He had less than 5 feet on the fourth playoff hole for victory and missed. Hearn hit the putt too hard, as it kissed the back of the cup and it did not drop. Faced with a slightly longer putt to force a sixth playoff hole, Hearn left the toe of the belly putter open and pushed the ball right. He was the very last player on the practice putting green late Saturday night; his shortcomings in the final round were not from a lack of practice.
Momentum: Steve Stricker was between clubs on the 203-yard 12th hole and chose wrong. His approach did not clear the bunker on the right, leading to bogey. That stopped all the momentum of the round. His future schedule is only partially known. Stricker says he will play in the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship. He has enough FedExCup points to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs but does not know if he will enter. Stricker wants to play on the Presidents Cup team and will enter the FedExCup Playoffs depending on his status for the U.S. team.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here