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Hlas: Sunday's golf drama is in Rio, not Quad Cities

A pair of 71s drop Zach Johnson from 3rd to 50th in John Deere Classic

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SILVIS, Ill. — This account of Saturday at the John Deere Classic is written primarily for Eastern Iowans, so let’s begin by noting the triumph and achievement of one of our own.

I walked 11.95 miles and 25,745 steps over two laps around the TPC Deere golf course according to my Fitbit. More importantly, I never fell once on the soggy grounds despite seven or eight possibly klutzy moments. So give Pappy a hand!

Gazette photographer Stephen Mally walked a mere 25,606 steps. But since he carried 12 pounds of camera equipment, let’s grudgingly give him a tip of the golf cap, too.

But someone is always ready to claim something greater. Like Brent Henley, the caddie for Robert Garrigus, one of Johnson’s playing partners Saturday.

“Caddied 36 holes today!” Henley tweeted. “So basically ran a full marathon with 50 pounds on my back. Let’s see one of those little Kenyan guys do that (bleep)!"

OK, chronicling the play of Cedar Rapids native son Zach Johnson is the guts of this assignment, not trying to tout inane personal cardio numbers. So, here is Johnson’s description of the way he played 36 holes Saturday in humidity and heat:

“Frustrating. Long. Stale. Very stale.”

Johnson’s first tee shot was at 7 (a.m.) and his last putt came not long before 7 (p, m.) He started the day at 6-under-par, ended the day at 6-under.

Which means he has fallen from a tie for third place at the end of Thursday’s first-round to a tie for 50th going into Sunday's final round.

Weather delays pushed play so far back that most of the field couldn’t complete second-round play on Friday. Johnson was one of 42 players who hadn’t even started their second rounds before Saturday.

He shot an even-par 71, ending a JDC streak of 29 straight rounds in the 60s that dated to the first round of the 2009 tourney.

Then he went back out after a two-hour break, and shot 71 again.

A television person asked what positives he took from the third round. Johnson replied, “I finished. That would be about it right now.”

His last five JDCs produced a tie for third place, a victory, a tie for second, an outright second, and a tie for third. Not today.

Which brings us to the contenders. Ryan Moore and Ben Martin and Morgan Hoffmann. If you know who all three are, you are a golf geek. Moore leads at 18-under, one shot ahead of the other two.

Moore was inches from making a 26-foot birdie putt on the 18th green at 8:25 p.m., only because enough light from a nearby electric scoreboard made visibility possible. The players definitely didn’t want to come to the course early Sunday morning to finish the hole before the final round began.

Moore is a pedigreed player. He won the U.S. Amateur and NCAA championships in 2004, and finished 13th in the 2005 Masters as an amateur.

He has four PGA Tour wins and 54 Top 10s, but is still trying to break through to “elite player” status though he has been close. He is ranked 59th in the world.

Martin and Hoffmann both shot third-round 62s, the best scores of the tourney.

“That might have been the best putting round I’ve ever had,” said Martin, who has one Top 10 in 23 Tour events this year, and one win in 104 career Tour starts.

Hoffmann is ranked 239th in the world. He didn’t crack the Top 10 in any of his previous 23 events this year, and is winless in 107 career Tour starts.

“It’s a crazy game,” Hoffmann said. “Just always stay positive and you never know what’s going to happen.”

The final round of the Olympic men’s golf tourney in Brazil Sunday features former U.S. Open champion Justin Rose of Great Britain dueling with current British Open-champ Henrik Stenson of Sweden. That is what’s what in golf this day.

Jamaica’s Usain Bolt goes for a third-straight gold medal in the 100-meter dash Sunday evening. That is what’s what in the Olympics this day.

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