A year after surviving a sudden-death playoff over Troy Matteson, Zach Johnson once again finds his name atop the leaderboard at TPC Deere Run. Here's the skinny heading into the second round of the John Deere Classic, where Johnson and Camilo Villegas opened with matching 64s:
What it means: Players in the morning wave received the more favorable conditions Thursday in Silvis, as winds kicked up to make the course more difficult as the day progressed. As a result, most of the lowest scores were shot early in the day, including that of Johnson, who began defense of his title with a 7-under 64.
Round of the day: Johnson began on the back nine, carding a 3-under 33 before notching four birdies across the first six holes of his inward half. Overall, the Iowa native missed just one fairway and just three greens in regulation, firing a bogey-free round that marked his 17th consecutive competitive round in the 60s at TPC Deere Run.
Best of the rest: Villegas began his day somewhat slowly, playing his first nine holes in 2 under before reeling off five birdies across an eight-hole stretch from Nos. 10-17. It matches the low round of the year for the Colombian, who will look to extend a made cut streak that dates back to May to seven events in Friday's second round.
Biggest disappointment: Having tied for fifth here a year ago and with the pro-Illini crowds supporting him, Luke Guthrie was expected by many to have a strong week in Silvis. Instead, the 23-year-old started the day 5-over after four holes, with a double bogey at No. 11 followed by a triple bogey at No. 13. His 5-over 75 featured just a pair of birdies, and now Guthrie appears destined for a third missed cut in his last four starts overall.
Biggest storyline heading into Friday: Low scores are the name of the game at TPC Deere Run, and the field can expect more of the same during Friday's second round. Johnson and Villegas will have to defend their advantage against a chase group that includes former Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III and three-time John Deere champion Steve Stricker, who both opened with rounds of 4-under 67.
Shot of the day: Beginning his round on the par-5 10th, de Jonge started his week in style thanks to an accurate wedge approach. The Zimbabwean only had 88 yards left for his third shot to No. 10 Thursday morning, one which he was able to hole for an eagle 3 to spark his round. He would go on to add three more birdies across the next seven holes and spent much of the morning in the lead before carding a 6-under 65.
Quote of the day: 'Very steady, very methodical, which is what I like. I like boring golf.' – Johnson, whose 64 Thursday matched his lowest round ever at TPC Deere Run.