Defending champion Zach Johnson and Camilo
Villegas each carded 7-under 64s on Thursday to share the lead after the
opening round of the John Deere Classic.
Matt Bettencourt, Daniel Summerhays and Brendon de Jonge shot matching 6-under
65s at TPC Deere Run to share third place, while Colonial winner Boo Weekley
is among a group of seven players tied for sixth at 5-under.
Weekley is joined by Jim Herman, Matt Jones, David Hearn, Vaughn Taylor, Kevin
Streelman and Robert Streb.
Steve Stricker, who had his three-year winning streak at this event snapped by
Johnson last year, shares 13th place with 12 other players at 4-under.
Johnson was the first of the co-leaders to hit the course and he started on
the back nine.
After getting on the board with a birdie at the 11th, he moved to 2-under with
a 22-foot birdie putt at the 15th.
He followed that with a 10-foot birdie effort at the 17th to make the turn at
3-under and opened his inward nine with a pair of gains at the first and
He then rolled in another putt from beyond 20 feet at the fifth to start
another set of back-to-back birdies and reach 7-under. He closed his bogey-
free round with three straight pars to remain there.
"I have always felt comfortable here, regardless of my numbers," said Johnson,
who is from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "When you are comfortable with the
surroundings, when you're comfortable with the peripherals (it helps). My
routine has been the same here the last three or four years. We're staying in
the same place. I've got my family here. The (John Deere Classic) staff does a
great job of just letting me get into my game."
Villegas started on the front nine and he also had the putter working for him
as he converted on birdie putts of 14 and 20 feet at the second and fourth,
respectively, to reach 2-under.
He traded a birdie at the seventh with a bogey at the ninth to close out his
outward 33 before he opened his back nine with three straight gains from the
10th that included a 22-foot putt at the 11th to move to 5-under.
A 13-foot birdie putt at the 14th pulled him within a stroke of the lead, and
Villegas was later able to meet Johnson atop the leaderboard with a short
birdie effort at the 17th.
Villegas had a chance to grab the outright lead with a lengthy birdie putt at
18th, but he was unable to convert and tapped in for par to maintain his share
of the lead.
"Made some great putts and just kept out of trouble," Villegas said about his
round. "I was very pleased with the way I handled myself out there. It was a
nice, relaxed, chill attitude and I enjoyed every single bit of the round."
Bettencourt, de Jonge and Summerhays all fired bogey-free rounds, with
Bettencourt and Summerhays each recording six birdies, while de Jonge posted
four birdies and an eagle.