History was not made on Sunday, or at least the history that we all wanted so badly to see. I am not sure but the first playoff hole has to be some kind of record for the highest total to tie in a playoff. Zach Johnson and Troy Matteson both make double bogey sixes to half the first hole of sudden death…I wonder if you said to either player, bogey wins it, if they play the hole differently?
So how did we get a playoff at the John Deere, it was a roller coaster leader board on Sunday afternoon. Stricker got as close as one shot behind the tournament leader Troy Matteson after a great front nine. Steve lost it a little bit in the middle of the round with a bogey or two, then made a great birdie on 16 to get close, but followed up his birdie with a bogey on the par 5 17th to remove himself from contention and his chance at golf immortality.
Troy Matteson also stumbled down the stretch with a double bogey on 15, and for the first time at the 2012 John Deere Classic found himself outside the top spot. Troy did the unbelievable though and drains a 60 footer for eagle to get himself back into a tie for the lead with Zach Johnson. After a drive into the trees on 18, Troy hits a great punch shot under the trees with the water left, and the flag tucked, and finds himself with a 30 footer to win the tournament. Low and behold a solid two putt means we have a playoff.
Zach hit first, and found the Stricker bunker off the tee. Troy hits next and finds the woods again on the right side of the fairway. Troy is first to hit, and over cooks his punch from the trees and finds the water. We all think well thats the end of that. OH WAIT. ZJ hits a good shot, but pulls it a little left, and finds the water himself! Both players fail to get up and down from around the green and we have our first push on a PGA Tour sudden death playoff with double bogey (I think that’s right?). Zach hits it in the bunker again on the second hole of the playoff, Troy finds the fairway. Zach hits first this time, and arguably hits the best shot ever to be hit out of the bunker on 18 at TPC Deere Run. From 194 yards his 6 iron rolls to within 12 inches of the cup. He goes from double bogey to kick in birdie. Troy leaves his approach a little short, then leaves his birdie putt a little low left, and ZJ has a tap in for the win.
Troy didn’t close the deal, and the double on the 70th hole of the tournament certainly did not help him, but he played great on the last two to get himself into a playoff. With Troy’s top 5 finish he also qualifies for a spot in the Open Championship (I know I said I would never call it that, but I guess I am crumbling to the media pier pressure). What I think is great about the John Deere Classic is that it gives any player that plays in their tournament a free plane ride over the pond to play in the Open Championship.
A great finish, and Steve Stricker gave up a great fight and put himself in a place to win coming down the stretch. Unfortunately for the golf history buffs out there, Stevies day in the golf spot light was just not meant to be. Good effort though Strick, and I think maybe he has a great chance for the Open Championship, which is only a few days away!