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Johnson, Villegas Share Lead At John Deere Classic

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.



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