HOMETOWN HERO Zach Johnson had to do the “victory” walk three times up to the 18th green before finally claiming the 2012 John Deere Classic after an action packed playoff today.
The US Masters winner was walking up the 18thy fairway the first time with a comfortable two shot lead when a roar from the 17th announced a 60 foot eagle putt by compatriot Troy Matteson.
Johnson missed his birdie putt by a whisker and when Matteson parred the 18th they finished regulation tied at 20-under.
Replaying the 18th as the first playoff hole they both found trouble off the tee and put their next shots into the dam running alongside the right hand side of the hole. Incredibly, both finished with double bogeys.
Replaying 18 once more Johnson again found the fairway bunker with his drive while Matteson was on the fairway nearby.
Johnson put his 190 yard six-iron shot from the bunker to within inches of the tee, ensuring the huge crowd response he received as he walked onto the green this time really was a victory salute. Matteson missed his longer ranged birdie putt, handing Johnson his ninth US PGA Tour victory.
“I think we’re stating the obvious,” Johnson said of his world-class approach shot. “That was really good. That was my shot of the week.”
Johnson carded a final-round 6-under 65 at the TPC Deere Run in Illinois while early tournament leader Matteson finished on 69.
Johnson, who trailed by as many as five shots on the front nine, rallied with birdies on Nos. 7, 8, 10, 13 and 14. He took the lead when Matteson double-bogeyed the 15th hole.
Scott Piercy (65) finished third while Australia‘s John Senden will be brimming with confidence going into the British Open after a final round 67 put him in outright fourth.
Senden, who hit a 64 in the second round, started the day with a double bogey but then bounced back with birdies on 2, 5, 8, 10, 12 before going to 19-under with eagle-birdie on 14 & 15. Unfortunately, he bogeyed 16 and 17 before stabilising with a par on the difficult 18th. He finished the tournament on 17-under and will take a lot out of his performance.
After sub-par rounds on the first three days, Stuart Appleby finished with an even par 71 to be tied for 25th on 11-under.
Steve Stricker, who was attempting to become just the fifth player in history to win the same event four times in succession, carded a final-round 70 and finished four shots back in a tie for fifth place.
Despite the playoff defeat, Matteson qualified for the British Open as the highest top-five finisher not already exempt.2012 John Deere Final Leaderboard