Wolff opens with solid 67 at John Deere
Sleep-deprived after big win, accepting PGA TOUR membership
July 11, 2019
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Matthew Wolff sticks approach to set up birdie at John Deere
SILVIS, Ill. – For a guy who hasn’t slept much since authoring his breakthrough PGA TOUR victory last weekend, Matthew Wolff got off to a solid start at the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run on Thursday.
Wolff birdied three straight holes to start his second nine, the front, and shot a bogey-free, 4-under 67 to stay within range of leader Adam Long (64) after the morning wave.
“I don’t think the win has settled in yet, really,” Wolff said. “I think it's still kind of just taking a little time.
“But you know, the weight off my shoulders is really big,” he added. “Just going out here, freeing up, and not just really worrying about I have to get my TOUR card or I have to do this. There's really no pressure on me anymore. I'm doing what I do, and I just love being out here.”
Wolff accepted TOUR membership Wednesday, just three days after the 20-year-old became the youngest winner since Jordan Spieth, then 19, at the 2013 John Deere. With no TOUR status to start the 3M, Wolff is now exempt through the 2020-’21 season. His life-changing victory also qualified him for the FedExCup Playoffs, World Golf Championships, Sentry Tournament of Champions, THE PLAYERS Championship, and Masters Tournament.
He played with fellow Oklahoma State alumni Charles Howell III and Kevin Tway on Thursday, and attracted fans with “Wolff Pack” T-shirts on a picture-perfect day. Two men stopped at the foot of the giant, manually operated scoreboard outside the clubhouse to ask the calligrapher, “Where’s Wolff?”
Fans are smitten, and have been ever since Sunday, when Wolff rolled in a 26-foot eagle to win the 3M. The victory sent ripples across the golf landscape, given his age and his zany swing, which begins with a left-leg shimmy, continues with an abrupt outside takeaway, and produces titanic tee shots.
“Professional golfers are gunna be hiding in the woods practicing the Matt Wolff swing like Shooter Mcgavin did with the Happy Gilmore,” tweeted fellow TOUR pro Max Homa after the 3M Open.
The rise of Wolff has energized the Deere. In winning the 3M, he became the third person (Tiger Woods, Ben Crenshaw) to win a TOUR event and the NCAA Championship in the same year. He left Oklahoma State after just two years, and won the 3M in just his third start as a professional.
Fellow rookie Collin Morikawa, who finished T2 at the 3M, shot an opening-round 70 at the Deere, while Wolff's former OSU teammate Viktor Hovland (T13 at the 3M) had an opening 69.
Vegas odds-makers put all three newly minted pros in the top five most likely to win the Deere.
Wolff has been catching up on sleep and answering hundreds of congratulatory texts, among them two from World Golf Hall of Famers Nick Price and Greg Norman.
On the course, he was up to his old tricks Thursday. He cut the corner and nearly drove the green at the 403-yard first hole, and made birdie. He lost ground on the greens, though, as he took 30 putts.
“This course suits me really well, along with last week,” Wolff said. “I feel like there are a lot of similarities, and definitely my length is a little bit of an advantage here, and the fairways are a little generous so I can attack and take a little more drivers, which I could do last week, and it just feels nice to back up a win with a good round.”