Johnson tops Matteson in playoff to win John Deere
Zach Johnson won the John Deere Classic on the second playoff hole Sunday, hitting his second shot to within a foot for a birdie putt to beat Troy Matteson.
After Johnson and Matteson double-bogeyed the 18th on the first playoff hole, Johnson hit a 193-yard second shot from a bunker to 12 inches from the cup on the second playoff hole, again on the 18th. Matteson needed to sink a 43-footer to match Johnson's birdie, but didn't get the putt to the hole.
It was Johnson's second win of the season and ninth of his career.
''It just feels awesome,'' Johnson said. ''This tournament has meant so much to me and my family, from when they gave me exemptions to being a part of its board.''
Johnson birdied three of the last six holes in regulation, taking the lead until Matteson sank a 60-foot eagle putt on the par-5 17th.
Matteson had a double-bogey on the 15th to hand Johnson the lead, but ran down the long putt while Johnson was on the 18th green to draw even. Johnson made par on the 18th in regulation for a bogey-free 6-under 65 that left him at 20-under 264. Matteson shot 2-under 69.
Johnson's 6-iron from the bunker on the second playoff hole gave the crowd a chance to roar louder than it had all day. The native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, about an hour from the Quad Cities, has always been a fan favorite at the tournament.
''I liked that crescendo from the crowd,'' Johnson said. ''I saw it bounce on the green and hoped it would kick left. I couldn't see the golf ball.''
It did, tracking until it stopped a foot away. Matteson's approach from the middle of the fairway stopped well short of the cup, and his putt turned away short of the hole.
''My hat's off to Zach,'' Matteson said. ''He drove it in the bunker twice and figured out a way to win. It's a great story, you know, home-town kid.''
Matteson nearly wrote a different story in regulation with his eagle on the 17th.
Johnson, on the 18th green, heard the roar, but didn't know whether it was for Matteson or Steve Stricker. Johnson then made his par and watched Matteson par the 18th to force the playoff.
Both hit their second shots into the water on the first playoff hole. Matteson hit his tee shot into the trees on the right, then hit his lay-up into the pond right of the fairway and short of the green. Johnson hooked his second shot into the pond, nearer the green, from a bunker on the left. They each stumbled to double-bogey 6.
Johnson, now second in the PGA Tour's point standings, had coach Mike Bender on his bag rather than usual caddie Damon Green, who finished tied for 17th in the U.S. Senior Open.
''It's awesome,'' Johnson said. ''We have great chemistry. He saw something in me early on, back in 2000.''
Johnson began his climb into contention with a 12-foot birdie on the seventh. He went ahead when Matteson, who had led since Thursday, sent his second shot over the 15th green and took four strokes from there for a double-bogey 6.
Stricker, the three-time defending champion, played himself out of contention by driving into high grass on the 14th. He settled for bogey after a penalty drop, then bogeyed the next hole and finished four strokes back at 16 under, tying for fifth with Luke Guthrie, whose finishing 64 came in his second tournament as a professional.
Scott Piercy finished third two strokes back after a 65. It included only two birdies on the back nine, but his consistent play allowed him to pass Stricker and John Senden, who went birdie-eagle on the 14th and 15th to get within a stroke of the lead before bogeying the next two holes to fall back.
Senden had a 67 to finish fourth, three strokes back.
Stricker was attempting to become the fifth player to win the same tournament four straight times. The others are Tom Morris Jr., Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen and Tiger Woods, who has done it twice.