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 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.

Getty Images

Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

Getty Images

Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

Getty Images

DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

Getty Images

Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.