Z. Johnson once again contending in John Deere


At this point, they should probably staple Zach Johnson's name to the leaderboards lining the course at the John Deere Classic.

Johnson has been a perennial contender at TPC Deere Run since 2009, notching six top-3 finishes in a seven-year span. That run includes his win in 2012, a playoff loss to Jordan Spieth in 2013 and a T-3 finish last year when Spieth once again left with the trophy.

Johnson is once again in contention after opening with a bogey-free 65 that was interrupted by a mid-round rain delay. At 6 under, he shared the early lead alongside Patrick Rodgers and Ryan Moore. When play was finally called for the day, the trio trailed Andrew Loupe, who was 8 under through 14 holes.

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"I don't know what it is, but I love the golf course. I love the putting surfaces," Johnson said. "I do know the moment I feel like I can take this place down is the moment it can bite me, so I've still got to stay focused and keep the pedal down."

Johnson started on the back nine and reeled off four birdies in a five-hole span from Nos. 14-18. He was 5 under through 12 holes when the rains came, and after the delay he played his final six holes in 1 under.

With the Olympics also being played this week in Rio, Johnson is one of the main draws in a diluted Quad Cities field. He is the top-ranked player in the field at No. 22, and one of only two players ranked inside the top 50.

With the tournament shifted from mid-July to mid-August because of this summer's unique demands, Johnson hopes to press on toward his second tournament title in spite of the unique circumstances tied to this year's event.

"It's just a difficult time of year," Johnson said. "That's unfortunate in the sense that the majors get affected. This week should be the PGA Championship week. But evidently the golf in the Olympics is a priority, so it's unfortunate."