In the end, Zach Johnson's first round at the British Open looked a lot like his final round at the John Deere Classic - numerically at least.
He shot 65.
The main difference is that Sunday's 6-under par round at the par 71 TPC Deere Run occurred amid steamy Midwestern drought conditions and led to his second victory of the year.
On Thursday morning at the Open, the 36-year-old 2007 Masters champion played a rain-soddened, par 70 Royal Lytham & St. Annes under heavy gray skies and was tied for second at 5-under before the afternoon wave of players hit the course. The morning players, however, saw no wind or rain, affording them ideal playing conditions. Zach took maximum advantage.
The Cedar Rapids, Ia. native and John Deere Classic board member was a stroke behind leader Adam Scott and two shots ahead of such charismatic names as Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Bubba Watson, and Graeme McDowell, who finished at 3-under. Many more were still on the course or hadn't even teed off, including 2009-2011 John Deere Classic champion Steve Stricker.
After making a bogey 5 at No. 3, Johnson reeled off seven birdies over his next 13 holes before a bogey at 17 slowed his momentum. He parred 18.
Johnson, who traveled to Manchester on Sunday night via the John Deere Classic charter, evidently was not suffering from the jet lag that many of golf's talking heads have decreed to be the kiss of death when it comes to competing for an Open Championship title.
Zach welcomed back his regular caddie, Damon Green, who took off last week to compete in the U.S. Senior Open, where he shot even par over 72 holes and tied for 17th. Mike Bender, Zach's instructor, caddied for him in his victory last week.