Johnson among trio of John Deere leaders


Scores are typically low at the John Deere Classic, and the results Thursday were no exception. Here's how things stand after one round at TPC Deere Run, where Zach Johnson is among a quartet of co-leaders:

Leaderboard: Zach Johnson (-8), Rory Sabbatini (-8), Brian Harman (-8), William McGirt (-7), Todd Hamilton (-7), Steven Bowditch (-7), Brendon de Jonge (-6), David Toms (-6)

What it means: Johnson got off to a quick start while moving to the top of the standings, where he was later joined by Sabbatini and Harman. As a winner here in 2012 and a runner-up a year ago, though, he was among the top names to watch entering the week and backed up that billing with an opening 63.

Round of the day: Johnson started on the back nine and caught fire in a hurry, making eight birdies across his first 11 holes to briefly flirt with a 59 on the par-71 layout. Despite closing with seven straight pars, Johnson recorded his 21st straight round in the 60s at TPC Deere Run and is in position for his fifth top-five finish at this event since 2009.

Best of the rest: Harman's opening round was an eventful one, as the Georgia product made six birdies across a seven-hole stretch on the back nine, including four in a row on Nos. 11-14. Harman dropped his lone shot on No. 15 and countered that with nine birdies, finding 16 of 18 greens in regulation as he looks to win on the PGA Tour for the first time.

Biggest disappointment: An even-par round rarely earns this distinction, but such is the case at the Deere where birdies fly early and often. Jordan Spieth entered this week as the defending champion but he struggled to get much going in the opening round and was 2 over after 15 holes. While he got back to Even with a pair of birdies coming home, he still sits eight shots off the pace and outside the cut line heading into the second round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Johnson is a resident of nearby Cedar Rapids and has long made this event a priority. Once again at the top of the standings, he will be the player to watch in the second round as he looks to build upon the momentum created with his opening 63 on a course where he is now a cumulative 92 under since 2009.

Quote of the day: "Love would be an understatement. This is obviously a highlight of my schedule every year, for me and my family." - Johnson