ZACH LOSES LEAD, NOT CONFIDENCE
SILVIS, Ill. Zach Johnson's coronation as repeat champion of the John Deere Classic took a detour Saturday even though the defending champion seemed to do his part by shooting a third-round 4-under par 67 at TPC Deere Run and get to 16 -under par for the tournament.
Despite his solid performance, however, Johnson finds himself in third place, trailing leader Daniel Summerhays by three shots going into Sunday's final round. That's a result of spectacular play by Summerhays, who shot a 9-under par 62 to move to19-under par, and Canadian David Hearn, who fired a 7-under 64 to get to 17-under. Neither Summerhays or Hearn has won on the PGA TOUR.
As one might expect of a nine-time PGA TOUR champion and three-time Ryder Cup player, Johnson, 37, sounded confident about his prospects.
"If there's anything that I'm going to put in my pocket, it's the fact that I can do it here on Sunday," Johnson said. "I've won tournaments with the lead going into Sunday, I've lost tournaments with the lead going into Sunday, and the same with being behind...there's not going to be a 'number.' I won't scoreboard watch much, either. I know I've got to make some birdies. I'll look at the board when I need to...My plan is to just continue doing what I'm doing."
Summerhays blitzed the front nine with five birdies and a bogey Saturday to turn in 31 then proceeded to make five more birdies on the back with no bogeys for another 31.
"Really looking forward to tomorrow," said Summerhays, 29, of Utah and Brigham Young. "My three little boys, they would love me for me to hold that John Deere trophy up there. This is their favorite stop. They've been talking about it all year - when are we going to John Deere?...I'll just have a lot of good thoughts in my mind tomorrow, think about my family, think about my boys, and, yeah, looking forward to it."
After nines of 32-32, Hearn, a 34-year-old Ontario native, said he will be excited to be in the final pairing with Summerhays on Sunday.
"I'm not really going to think too much about trying to catch him...I'm just going to keep the mindset that I had today," Hearn said. "I'm going to do my best to stay aggressive with the wedges and the short irons and try to give myself as many chances as I can."
Tied for fourth is Jerry Kelly, who continues to be low Wisconsin resident, a position normally held by three-time John Deere Classic champion Steve Stricker. Stricker shot a 2-under 69 Saturday and is tied for 17th with six other players, including fellow Illini alum Scott Langley, who will be his playing partner in the final round.
Australian Matt Jones, Nicholas Thompson and Chris Kirk are tied at 14-under and looking for their first PGA TOUR wins.
Second-round co-leader Patrick Reed, who played with Johnson in the final pairing Saturday, shot a 1-under 70 and dropped into a tie for ninth at 13-under with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Sutherland, who both shot 65.
Meanwhile, amateur Patrick Rodgers, of Avon, Ind. and Stanford, continued his impressive run with his third and best round in the 60s this week - a 6-under 65 to get him into a tie for 12th with second-round co-leader Lucas Glover (71), Troy Matteson (69), Jim Herman (67) and Morgan Hoffman (63). Rodgers, who aspires to a spot on the U.S. Walker Cup team, made five birdies on his front nine to turn in 30, birdied the par 5 10th then rolled in a long putt on the par 3 12th to take a share of the lead before making bogey on the 18th.
"My game felt really good and kind of got over the mental hurdle of making the first cut on the PGA TOUR," said the 19-year-old Rodgers, who attributed some of his success to having played a practice round with Johnson earlier in the week. "What a great experience to play with one of the greatest players in the world and a guy who's had a ton of success out here...He drives the ball really straight, has a great wedge game and he putts it well...He's treated me really well and he's a great guy, and I hope to compete with him down the road."
Spieth, also 19, knows he has to shoot a special round on Sunday to win the tournament. A victory would earn him an exemption into the British Open and a spot in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
"I'm going to have to really shoot 6-, 7-, 8-under to have a chance," Spieth said. "These guys are making a lot of birdies, so that's what I'm going to try to do."
Victory means more to Spieth than some other players.
"If you win here, you get to go next week and play in a major championship, and the PGA Championship is coming up, and I'm borderline getting into that, too," Spieth said. "I want to get out there and play a solid round, and I'll be looking at the leaderboard. You want to know what you have to do out here, especially coming down the stretch."