A hometown hero's welcome was ringing across the
18th green Sunday for Iowa native and presumptive winner Zach Johnson when he
heard a sudden, competing wave of cheers one hole back.
A dramatic 60-foot eagle
by third-round leader Troy Matteson would set up an eventual playoff, but
Johnson would produce a stunning shot of his own on the second extra hole to
win the John Deere Classic.
Bunkered on the left
side of the fairway for the second time in a row on TPC Deere Run's 463-yard
par-4 18th, Johnson drilled his 6-iron approach shot 194 yards to within a foot
of the hole.
“I think we’re stating
the obvious,” Johnson said. “That was really good. That was my shot of the
His tap-in birdie gave
him his ninth PGA
Tour victory, courtesy of
his best career comeback. He trailed Matteson by four strokes to start the
final day, and by overcoming that deficit he bested the three-stroke comeback
he used to win the 2007 AT&T Classic in Atlanta ... also over Matteson.
His second title of 2012
(after winning at Colonial in May) yielded an $828,000 payday and resulted in a
jump to second place in the FedEx Cup standings, just 32 points behind leader Tiger Woods.
"It is (very emotional),"
he said of winning his "hometown" event, for which he serves as a
board member. "This tournament means a lot to me, a lot to my family. And
it means a lot to the PGA Tour."
For Matteson, there was
one very tangible consolation prize. By reaching the playoff he earned the
final spot in the field for this week's Open Championship at Royal Lytham &
Scott Piercy was third
at 18 under, and Aussie John Senden was another stroke back in fourth place.
Johnson birdied Nos. 13
and 14 to get to within a stroke of Matteson, then picked up the lead when the
seventh-year pro made double-bogey on his 15th hole.
His 15-foot putt from
the fringe on No. 18 would have placed him at 21 under and avoided the playoff,
but it slid inches to the left.
Both players had found
water and made double-bogey on a back-and-forth first playoff hole.
It was the first playoff
at the event since 2008, which also was the last time any player other than
Steve Stricker had won at Quad Cities. Kenny Perry used two extra holes that
year to beat Jay Williamson and Brad Adamonis.
Stricker was in
contention on the final day, but struggled on the back nine and shot 1 under to
finish at 16 under overall in a fifth-place tie with fellow University of
Illinois alumnus Luke Guthrie.