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2014 John Deere Classic (The 35th of 41 events in the PGA TOUR Season), Silvis, IL, July 7-13, 2014; Purse: $4,700,000 ($846,000); TPC Deere Run; Par/Yards: 35-36—71/7,268; FedExCup: 500 (winner) – First-Round Notes – Thursday, July 10, 2014

Zach Johnson (Pictured by Getty Images)

Making his 13th consecutive start in this event, Cedar Rapids’ Zach Johnson has made the cut 10 times at the John Deere Classic. Since 2011, Johnson has finished no worse than T3 in the event (T3-2011, 1st-2012 and T2-2013).

With today’s 8-under 63, Johnson has now posted 21 consecutive rounds in the 60s at TPC Deere Run (totaling 92-under). Not since the final round of 2008 (even-par 71) has Johnson posted a score in the 70s.

Johnson was virtually unflappable off the tees and into the greens in round one. He hit all 14 fairways in regulation and 15/18 greens (83.3 percent).

So far this year, Johnson has collected four top-10 finishes, highlighted by his 11th career PGA TOUR win at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions (where Jordan Spieth, coincidentally, finished second).

Johnson’s 8-under 63 today bests his previous low of 64 in this tournament, one of which came in round one last year.

Johnson’s bogey-free round was his 10th at TPC Deere Run, a tournament record. Kevin Sutherland trails him with eight.

Johnson has held/shared the first-round lead seven times previously on the PGA TOUR. The only event which produced a victory was the 2012 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

Johnson’s first 18-hole lead on the PGA TOUR came at the 2006 John Deere Classic, following a 7-under 64. He finished T15. Most recently, he led after the first round at the 2013 Open Championship, where he finished T6.

Johnson serves on the Board of Directors for the John Deere Classic.

Brian Harman

When Brian Harman’s caddie Scott Tway fell victim to food poisoning Wednesday night and couldn’t complete the round on the bag, a girls golf coach for Allamen Catholic High School in nearby Rock Island offered to go from spectator to caddie beginning at No. 7.

Harman birdied six of his last eight holes en route to the 8-under 63, his lowest round since posting the same number in the second round of the 2012 RBC Canadian Open. Harman’s career-low of 61 came in round two of the 2012 Honda Classic (T12).

Harman is making his 25th start of the season this week, having made 16 cuts. Harman came into this week on the heels of back-to-back missed cuts at the Quicken Loans National and last week’s Greenbrier Classic.

Harman is in search of his first career PGA TOUR win in his 88th start. His best finishes are a pair of T3s, first at last year’s Wyndham Championship. He matched that finish earlier this season at the Northern Trust Open. Other top-10 finishes this season were T7/Frys.com Open, T10/The McGladrey Classic, T7/RBC Heritage and T6/FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Harman has previously never held a lead/co-lead after any round on the PGA TOUR.

Rory Sabbatini

Rory Sabbatini posted four birdies on each nine to take a share of the 8-under lead with Zach Johnson and Brian Harman.

Sabbatini’s 63 marks his lowest score since posting the same number in the final round of the 2010 Hyundai Tournament of Champions. It is a stroke off his career-low low TOUR.

Sabbatini is making just his fourth start at the John Deere Classic this week. He finished T21 in 1999, T19 in 2012 and missed last year’s cut.

Sabbatini is making his 23rd start of the season, in which he has claimed three top-10 finishes. His best among them is a T3 at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba.

Sabbatini has struggled coming into the week, having missed the cut in three of his last four cuts (Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, the Memorial and last week’s Greenbrier Classic).

Sabbatini, a six time winner on the PGA TOUR, is looking for his first win since the 2011 Honda Classic.

Sabbatini has previously held an 18-hole lead/co-lead nine times, with his best result being a T2 at the 2006 Sony Open in Hawaii.

First-Round Lead Notes

Since moving to the TPC Deere Run in 2000, the first-round leader has never held on for the win.

The first-round leader has emerged victorious just seven of 31 times on the PGA TOUR this season. The last to do so was Martin Kaymer at the U.S. Open, who won in wire-to-wire fashion.

Todd Hamilton

Making the most of a sponsor exemption, Illinois native Todd Hamilton made seven birdies and no bogeys in his first round on the PGA TOUR this season. Hamilton has not played on TOUR since missing the cut at the 2013 Barracuda Championship (Reno-Tahoe Open).

Hamilton’s 63 is his best in the event (45 rounds) by three strokes. He posted 66 in round three of 2008 and round two of 2011.

Hamilton is making his 15th start at the John Deere Classic, where he has made eight cuts. His best finish among them is a T10 in 2006.

Miscellaneous Notes

Jordan Spieth

Defending John Deere Classic champion Jordan Spieth opened with an even-par 71 and his eight strokes back. En route to last year’s victory at TPC Deere Run, Spieth opened with a 1-under 70 and began round two nine strokes back.

Steve Stricker

Three-time champion Steve Stricker opened with a 3-under 68 after hitting 8/14 fairways in regulation (57.1 percent) and 11/18 greens (61.1 percent).

Stricker is making his 13th career start at the John Deere Classic. He was victorious in 2009, 2010 and 2011, finished T5 in 2012 and T10 last year. He has made eight consecutive cuts in this event.

Paul Goydos

Making his 19th and final start on a Major Medical Extension, Paul Goydos needs to earn $556,296 this week to extend said status through the remainder of the season. Only a victory at TPC Deere Run would cover the necessary funds ($846,000). Goydos opened with a 12-under 59 in round one of the John Deere Classic in

2010, finishing second. Goydos opened with a 2-under 69 in round one this week.

David Gossett

2001 John Deere Classic champion David Gossett 6-putted the fifth green for a quadruple-bogey eight. There have been 20 occurrences of 6-putts or worse, dating to 1992. The largest number belongs to Jay Don Blake, who 8-putted the 72nd hole of the 2004 Booz Allen Classic.


First-Time Winners:

The John Deere Classic has produced 19 first-time PGA TOUR winners over the years – six of those have come at TPC Deere Run (Michael Clark/2000, David Gossett/2001, Mark Hensby/2004, Sean O’Hair/2005, John Senden/2006 and Jordan Spieth/2013).

Charter Flight to Open Championship

There are currently 23 players set to take advantage of the charter flight Sunday night to the Open Championship.

Patrick Cantlay withdrew before the first round with a back injury.

Bogey-free rounds:

R1: Zach Johnson (63), Rory Sabbatini (63), Todd Hamilton (64), William McGirt (64), Kevin Tway (65), Ryan Moore (66), Jerry Kelly (66), Bud Cauley (67), Chad Campbell (69), Joe Ogilvie (69).

The easiest hole in round one was the par-5 second hole, playing to an average of 4.458. The most difficult hole was the par-4 9th, with an average of 4.200.

Scoring Averages at the par-71 TPC Deere Run:

Front 9 Back 9 Total Cumulative

R1: 34.839 35.612 70.450

Weather: Mostly sunny, with an afternoon high of 80 degrees. Winds SE 5-9 mph.

First-Round Leaderboard

Zach Johnson 63 (-8)

Brian Harman 63 (-8)

Rory Sabbatini 63 (-8)

Leaders

Source: PGA TOUR

Author

Graham J Gordon, The Editor and Owner, GolfblogspotUK

The GolfblogspotUK website is owned and run by former Walker Cup player and European Tour card holder, Graham J Gordon, from Scotland, the Home of Golf. The owner is a golf fanatic who had to retire early from competitive tour play due to a back injury that required surgery. Graham wishes to share his knowledge and own experiences of the game with the GolfblogspotUK community and to receive your feedback on all aspects of the sport. Graham has been playing the game for over 20 years and received a great deal of pleasure from the sport. He has met several friends and visited many different places around the world, thanks to playing the great game of golf. Time to put a little back into the game to help others.

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