Zach Johnson wins John Deere Classic in playoff

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2012, 12:11 am

SILVIS, Ill. – Zach Johnson already was a member of the board of directors of the John Deere Classic.

Now he has another title at the tournament: champion.

Johnson won the Deere on Sunday with a birdie on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff. His 193-yard 6-iron approach from the bunker left of the 18th fairway ran up to less than a foot from the cup for an easy birdie, enabling him to knock off Troy Matteson, whose approach landed 43 feet from the pin.

''I saw it bounce on the green and hoped it would kick left,'' Johnson said. ''I couldn't see the golf ball.''

Johnson couldn't miss hearing the gallery, many of them friends, as the ball crept within a foot of the hole.

''I liked that crescendo from the crowd,'' said Johnson, who is from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, about an hour from the Quad Cities.

The kick-in birdie had seemed unlikely minutes earlier after Johnson followed Matteson into the water from the same bunker on the first playoff hole. Each settled for double-bogey 6, then went back to the 18th tee for another try.

Johnson bunkered his tee shot again, but this time, he played one of the better shots of a career that includes a 2007 Masters victory and eight other PGA Tour titles.

''It's one of the best results,'' Johnson said.

When Matteson was unable to sink his long birdie putt, Johnson tapped in to secure his second victory of the year, adding to the title he won at Colonial Country Club.

While Johnson tried to downplay what winning would mean to him during the tournament's first three days, with the trophy in his grasp he admitted that it meant a great deal.

''It just feels awesome,'' Johnson said. ''This tournament has meant so much to me and my family, from when they gave me exemptions to being a part of its board.

''I don't really like making things a bigger deal than what they should be. It means a great deal now that I've done it.''

The duo had tied at 20-under 264 after Johnson closed with a 6-under 65 and Matteson had a 69.

Matteson had his best finish since winning the Frys.com Open in 2009, and needed a top-five placing to qualify for the British Open.

So rather than drive to nearby Rockford for a Monday pro-am and then fly to Mississippi for the PGA Tour tournament, he hopped on the charter that Deere has to ferry players across the Atlantic to the British Open. It will be his first appearance in the year's third major.

''It's a heck of a way to play a qualifier, for four days,'' Matteson said. ''When I started this week I really didn't think about the British Open. It's fun to play (Rockford) and then go to Mississippi.''

Matteson, playing with three-time defending champion Steve Stricker, led from the first round until a double-bogey on the 15th hole dropped him to 18-under, a stroke behind Johnson, who played a bogey-free, with birdies on three of his last six holes keying his surge.

But Matteson made up for his miscue with an eagle on the par-5 17th, sinking a 60-footer that drew a roar Johnson heard on the 18th green.

''I didn't know who the roar was for,'' Johnson said.

So Johnson two-putted for par and waited for Matteson, who matched him to force the playoff.

Johnson climbed into second in the FedEx Cup standings, trailing only Tiger Woods, and is fifth in the Ryder Cup standings.

''If it happens, great,'' Johnson said. ''In golf, arguably in sport, they're some of the most fun and gut-wrenching tournaments you can play in. I love that.''

Stricker began the day with a chance for a fourth straight title, but played himself out of contention by driving into high grass on the 14th hole. He settled for bogey after a penalty drop, then bogeyed the next hole and finished four strokes back, tied for fifth with Luke Guthrie.

''It was fun trying to do it,'' Stricker said of a potential four-peat. ''It was fun, but I think it's the putter. This week it was hot and cold.''

Stricker was attempting to become the fifth player to win the same tournament four straight times. The others are Tom Morris Jr., Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen and Woods, who has done it twice.

Scott Piercy's closing 65 left him two strokes back in third, and John Senden posted a 67 for fourth place, three shots off the pace.

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up right where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”



Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.