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Z. Johnson wins John Deere Classic in a playoff

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Winning major golf championships is often about perseverance under pressure filled circumstances. The players, the fans and even the announcers got a real taste of major-style drama as Zach Johnson edged out Troy Matteson on the second playoff hole to win the 2012 John Deere Classic at the TPC Deere Run course in Silvis, Illinois.

Johnson shot a 6-under 65 on Sunday to tie with Matteson, who wobbled to a 2-under par 69. Matteson appeared out of contention with a double bogey on the short par-4 16th, but he bounced back with an improbable 60-foot bomb of a putt on the 17th hole to earn his way into the playoff with Johnson.

On the first playoff hole (No. 18), Zach Johnson hit into what is now known as “Stricker’s Bunker” on the left side of the fairway. Matteson pushed his drive right and got a break as it kicked partly out of the trees to leave a shot at the green, albeit a difficult one. Almost unbelievably, both players went into the water hazard with their second shots. Matteson pitched his fourth shot about 10 feet past the hole. Johnson actually took four nerve-wracking drops to get in position for his fourth and left it 18 feet past the hole. His putt slid five feet past the hole. Matteson then had a put for the win, but he also hit his putt several feet past the cup. Both players made their short putts to take the playoff to a second hole.

On the second playoff hole Johnson, failed to hit the fairway again and found himself in the same left fairway bunker. Matteson put his shot in the fairway, but it almost made no difference what Matteson did next because Johnson hit the shot of a lifetime on his second, carving a 6-iron out of the sand to six inches. Matteson left himself 20 feet to stay in the tournament; in a metaphor for his week, he came up just short. Johnson kicked in his putt and became the Tour’s fourth multiple tournament winner in 2012, joining Tiger Woods (3), Jason Dufner and Hunter Mahan. Johnson’s ninth career victory also gave him his biggest come from behind victory, coming from four strokes off the lead in the final round to catch third-round leader Matteson. Matteson, who had missed one more cut than he had made coming into the John Deere, enjoyed his best finish of the year and also got a great consolation prize by qualifying for the 2012 British Open at Royal Lytham and St. Annes this week.

Two-time defending champion Steve Stricker, who won in dramatic fashion in 2011 with one of the best shots of the year on the 18th hole setting up a victory-clinching birdie, was in great position to notch his third consecutive win going into the final holes. But a series of uncharacteristically erratic drives led to bogeys on Nos. 14, 15 and 17, leaving Stricker tied for fifth place at 16-under 268. Third-place finisher Scott Piercy finished just two shots out of the playoff by shooting a brilliant, bogey-free 64 on Sunday (18-under 266). Aussie John Senden also had window of opportunity when he carded a birdie and eagle on Nos. 14 and 15, but he slammed it on his own hand with bogeys on the next two holes and finished in solo fourth place.

Lee Trevino in 1971 is the only golfer to win the week before the British Open (the Canadian Open) and then go on to win the Open championship the next week. The chances of Zach Johnson becoming the second are considered slim. Indeed, he probably isn’t even the player with the last name Johnson with the best chance; that distinction would belong to compatriot Dustin Johnson. But Z. Johnson, winner of the 2007 Masters, is clearly in winning form and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him among the leaders next Sunday.

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.

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  1. Troy Vayanos

    Jul 16, 2012 at 6:14 am

    Great effort by Zach Johnson.

    That shot from the fairway bunker during the 2nd playoff hole will be remembered as one of the best shots of 2012.

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Tour News

5 things we learned on Sunday of the 2018 U.S. Open

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Opportunity knocked for so many golfers, yet it was the 2017 champion who seized the moment when it was his. Brooks Koepka fired his second sub-par round of the week on Sunday to separate from playing partner Dustin Johnson, and enter the pantheon of multiple major champions. He became the 7th player to defend his title, joining old-school legends like Willie Anderson and John McDermott, mid-century icons like Ralph Guldahl and Ben Hogan, and the last man to accomplish the feat, Curtis Strange. With that introduction, let’s move to the main event, the 5 things we learned on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills.

5) The USGA gave golf a chance

True to its word, the USGA pulled out all the stops in the wee hours of Sunday morn. The course set-up team ensured that enough water was distributed to putting surfaces, that worthy shots would not be punished. Hole locations were assessed and confirmed, also ensuring that multiple opportunities for success were available. As a result, 15 golfers turned in scores under par of 70, highlighted by Tommy Fleetwood’s 7-under stunner. Although many fans, writers and players were quick to assault the organizers for losing control of the course, the USGA reminded us that it always had control of the conditions at Shinny, and that its only mistake was to soar too close to the sun.

4) Captain America ran out of gas

If Patrick Reed had been able to sign his card on the 9th tee, when he stood 5-under on the day and 1-over for the tournament, he would be in a playoff with the eventual champion as I type. Unfortunate for this year’s Masters champion was that 10 holes remained. Reed promptly bogeyed the 9th, added 3 more bogeys on the inward half, and summoned just one birdie toward the end. His fourth-place finish was his best in a U.S. Open, but knowing that victory was in the cards will sting for a while.

3) DJ and Finau gave it a run

Where to begin? How about this: DJ had four bogeys on Sunday. He totaled that many on Thursday-Friday combined. He had birdies, too, but couldn’t find the game that possessed him over the opening 36 holes. Oddly enough, this type of experience won’t be a setback for the 2016 champion. After all, he came back from a career-killer in 2015, when he 3-whacked his way out of a playoff with Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay. As for Milton Pouhau Finau, aka Tony, the Utah native had never before been in the final group on any day of a major professional championship. He acquitted himself well, standing even on the day and 3-over for T2 at the 18th tee. Knowing that he needed eagle for a playoff might have taken the final winds from his sails, and he limped home with double bogey and solo third. Looking ahead to the final August playing of the PGA Championship, Bellerive near St. Louis might just be his type of course.

2) Tom Terrific nearly made his own U.S. Open history

I’ll write this cautiously, as I’m certain I would have intimated in the 1980s and 90s that Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood would have been major champions by now. Tommy Fleetwood ought to win one of these things soon. His record-tying 63 was a short putt away from a record-breaking 62. Eight birdies against a single bogey was the stuff of legend, and if only he had trusted that final putt a bit higher on the break … that’s not fair. Fleetwood right now is the fellow to watch at Carnoustie next month. Bet a few quid or bob or whatever on the Southport native, as he should contend for the title.

1) Brooks cooks up a winning broth

It’s easy to look back and see all the great shots that the defending champion hit over the four days of the 2018 U.S. Open, shots that would win him his second consecutive trophy. Remember that 60-feet bomb to save par on Saturday? Shades of Costantino Rocca. How about the approach shots to within mere feet that earned him 5 birdies on Sunday, including a competition-killer on 16? Koepka was the guy we thought Dustin Johnson would be. Perhaps it was the time off for wrist rehabilitation early this season that gave him the burning desire to win. Out for nearly 4 months, Koepka had plenty of time to ponder what he achieved last June in Wisconsin, and what might lay ahead for him. The begged question is, does the most recent, two-time major winner have the game to acquire more of the game’s cherished trophies?

Related: Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB from the 2018 U.S. Open

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Wednesday’s Photos from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (par 70; 7,440 yards) in Southhampton, New York. The U.S. Open returns to Shinnecock for the first time since 2004 when Retief Goosen won (he failed to qualify for the 2018 event).

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Phil Mickelson, who has two top-5 finishes at Shinnecock Hills, will seek to fill out his career Grand Slam with a win this week. Also, it’s Tiger Woods’ 10-year anniversary of winning the legendary 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines — that was his most recent major championship victory.

Also in the field are headliners Dustin Johnson (now ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings), Justin Thomas (No. 2), Justin Rose (No. 3), Jon Rahm (No. 4) and Jordan Spieth (No. 5).

Brooks Koepka (No. 9) is the defending champion; he won last year by four shots for his first and only major so far in his career.

Check out our photos from Shinnecock Hills below!

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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Spotted at Shinnecock: #RVLife, superb staff bags, stellar stampings

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We’re on the famed grounds of Shinnecock Hills Golf Club for the second major of the year. With the U.S. Open returned to such a visually and historically rich venue, it may be a bit tough to focus on equipment.

Nevertheless, we spotted some cool stuff, Tuesday, as the players move ever closer to the second major of th eyear.

Let’s get to the photos.

#RVLife propronent, Jason Day’s putter cover is incredible.

Michael Greller displays an essential caddie skill…

Face of Tiger’s wedge. Do these look like standard TaylorMade MG grooves to you?

Greatest side panel on a bag ever?

Who isn’t happy to see “Woods” on USGA tournament signage?

Shintaro Ban’s unique dot stamping is, well, money.

A look at the Bridgestone U.S. Open staff bag and headcovers.

Kenny Perry: Still gaming R7 irons.

Scott Gregory with some solid wedge stamping.

What is this lead taped and war torn beauty?

All our photos from Tuesday

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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