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  • Local Boy Makes Good

    16 Jul 2012

    Contributed by GlobalGolfPost

     

     

    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 week.”

    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 & St Annes.

    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.

     

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