LAST YEAR’S NEAR DEERE MOTIVATED OPEN CHAMPION
When Zach Johnson boarded the non-stop jet from the Quad Cities to Scotland last July, he was not in a positive frame of mind.
“I was upset,” Johnson said. “I was still upset on Tuesday at St. Andrews.”
Johnson had finished in a tie for third at the Deere, a shot out of the Jordan Spieth-Tom Gillis playoff.
Johnson had shot a closing 6-under-par 65 at TPC Deere Run, his 28th consecutive round in the 60s. It was also a fifth straight top three finish for the 2012 Deere champ. But all was of little consolation for Johnson as he stormed his way to the jet and the trip to Scotland.
That 65? Johnson felt he’d left too many shots out there, shots that kept him from the winner’s circle.
“I was upset for not birding No. 14 from in front of the green,” Johnson said. “Not birding No. 17 with a 5-wood in my hand (for his second shot). And that lip-out on No. 18.”
Johnson had a 15-foot birdie putt that still would have gotten him in the playoff. It caught the edge of the cup and stayed out.
“I was playing with Johnson Wagner,” Zach said. “He hits a putt almost on the same line that went left, and mine went right. I was walking it in and it went right. I’m thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me.’ I was livid.”
Johnson channeled his anger and disappointment, and won the Open Championship at St. Andrews for his second career major. So does some of the credit to that victory at the Birthplace of Golf go to his disappointment at the John Deere Classic?
“Yeah, I think so,” Johnson said.