Z. Johnson shares lead at John Deere Classic

By Associated PressJuly 12, 2014, 1:06 am

SILVIS, Ill. – For the past five years, Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker have had a near-monopoly on the John Deere Classic.

Johnson won in 2012, lost to Jordan Spieth in a three-way playoff last year, and tied for second in 2009.

Stricker won three straight beginning in 2009, tied for fifth two years ago, and tied for 10th last year.

After 36 holes of this year's Deere, Johnson is a co-leader and Stricker is tied for sixth, three strokes back.

The two Midwesterners - Johnson is from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, while Stricker hails from Madison, Wisc. - go out of their way to say there's no rivalry. And Johnson gives the nod of supremacy to Stricker.


John Deere: Articles, videos and photos


''I've won once. He's won three times,'' Johnson said. ''I don't think it's a debate. Twenty-five years from now, nobody is going to remember who finished second, third or fourth.''

Stricker kidded, ''I thought I was the man here,'' adding he felt playing at TPC Deere Run was something of a home weekend, even though Madison is three hours away.

''We don't have a tournament in Milwaukee anymore, and this is the closest thing to home, I guess,'' Stricker said. ''It looks like we could be playing this in Madison.''

Johnson and William McGirt were tied at 12-under-par 130 after 36 holes, a stroke ahead of Steven Bowditch, Johnson Wagner and Brian Harman.

Stricker's 65 gave him 133 on the par-71 course, tied with Rory Sabbatini, Ryan Moore and Todd Hamilton.

Johnson shot 4-under 67 in the afternoon despite two bogeys in his last four holes. That dropped him into a tie with McGirt.

McGirt, 35, is looking for his first PGA Tour victory. He added a 66 to his opening 64, but like Johnson, he finished with a bogey. McGirt's best finish this year is a tie for sixth in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera. Since then, he's had one top 10 and has missed the cut in seven of 14 tournaments.

McGirt is winless on the PGA Tour in 111 starts, most of them in the last four years. His best finish is a T-2 in the Canadian Open in 2012 and 2013.

Asked how he'd gotten to 12 under and the lead on Friday, he said, ''I couldn't tell you what happened.''

Four birdies in a row and seven in a stretch of nine holes happened.

One thing McGirt hasn't been doing well recently is sinking putts, but he's needed only 24 in each of the first two rounds.

''For some reason I'm able to see the line this week,'' McGirt said. ''I feel I've putted better the last few weeks and haven't holed anything.''

Bowditch opened his round with an eagle 3 on the 10th hole en route to a 67, while Wagner made it to 12 under before a bogey on his last hole.

Stricker matched McGirt's 5-under 30 on Deere Run's front nine to finish his round.

Hamilton, who grew up in the area, used a 69 to get to 133, while Moore shot 67 and Sabbatini shot 70.

Jerry Kelly and Charles Howell III were among those at 8 under. Howell, who shot 68, aced the uphill 132-yard third hole.

Spieth was five strokes back of the leaders through 36 holes thanks to a 64 for 7-under 135. He was five back after two rounds last year.

Johnson's success in his home tournament has given him a comfort level absent previously, when he missed the cut three times in seven years and didn't finish better than 20th.

''I've grasped and embraced the fact I'm going to have a lot of friends outside the ropes, and it's terrific,'' Johnson said. ''They don't care if I shoot 62 or 82. They're still going to be on my side.

''Trying to play for them may have been part of the issue years ago, but not anymore.''

Stricker, 109 under par in 22 rounds since 2009 at Deere Run, got within sight of the leaders with his 30 on the course's front nine to finish his round.

''At least I kept pace,'' Stricker said. ''This was an important day for me. I didn't go out with a specific number in mind, but I knew I needed something good.''

Stricker won three straight at Deere Run starting in 2009, and has tied for fifth and 10th place, respectively, the last two years.

''I know how to play it, I guess,'' Stricker said. ''There's a lot of short iron shots, which plays into my game, and I seem to putt the ball really well, too.''

The cut fell at 2-under-par 140, leaving 77 players for the weekend. Former world No. 1 David Duval withdrew after an opening 81.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Sharma among three Open qualifiers at Joburg Open

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:16 pm

Shubhankar Sharma earned his first career European Tour win at the rain-delayed Joburg Open and punched his ticket to The Open in the process.

Sharma returned to Randpark Golf Club Monday morning after storms washed out much of the scheduled final day of play. Beginning the re-start with a four-shot lead, he hung on to win by three over South Africa's Erik Van Rooyen.

Both men can make travel plans for Carnoustie next summer, as this was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series with three spots available for players not otherwise exempt who finished inside the top 10. The final spot went to Shaun Norris, who tied for third with Finland's Tapio Pulkkanen but had a higher world ranking (No. 192) than Pulkkanen (No. 197) entering the week.

The Joburg Open was the final official European Tour event of the year. The next tournament in the Open Qualifying Series will be the SMBC Singapore Open in January, where four spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 6, Dustin Johnson

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:00 pm

Only Dustin Johnson could win four times in 2017 and it still feels as though he underachieved.

That’s unfair, perhaps, but it’s a testament to Johnson’s awesome ability – and his incredible run of form last spring – that observers can’t help but shake the feeling that his year could have been even better.

In February, he rose to the top of the world rankings for the first time, the culmination of a long, bizarre journey in which he often battled himself (through major blunders and, reportedly, drug-related suspensions) as much as his peers. Johnson’s blowout victory at Riviera was his first of three consecutive titles (including two WGCs), as he achieved Tiger-like levels of dominance and rolled into the Masters as the prohibitive favorite.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Expectations for this star-crossed talent are always different, and so the surprise wasn’t that he blew that major but that he didn’t even give himself a chance. In one of the biggest stunners of the year, Johnson’s manager announced on the eve of the first round that his client had suffered a back injury while slipping on a set of stairs in his rental house. Just like that, the year’s first major was thrown into chaos, with Johnson unable to play – the line of demarcation in his good-but-not-great year.

Though he added a playoff victory at the end of the season, Johnson failed to factor in any of the remaining three majors and was surprisingly inconsistent, perhaps because of swing compensations after the injury.

Would DJ have denied Sergio Garcia a green jacket? Would he have created even more separation at the top of the world rankings? Would he have defended his Player of the Year title? Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

In typical DJ fashion, he left us to ponder what could have been.

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