Aug 12, 2016 at 9:11 pm | Print View
SILVIS, Ill. — It was only fitting, in a warped way, that rain started pouring two minutes before Zach Johnson was scheduled to hit his first John Deere Classic tee shot Friday.
That tee time, by the way, was 7:50 p.m.
So PGA Tour officials ruled Johnson and playing partners Brian Harman and Steve Stricker wouldn’t start their round after all. Which meant a pre-round routine for Johnson that included a total of an hour on the putting green, driving range and chipping green, were spent tuning up for what will be 36 holes Saturday.
That assumes Johnson will make the 36-hole cut after his morning round, which seems automatic given he shot a 6-under-par 65 Thursday.
Friday, all he got was wet and tired.
“It’s been a long day,” Johnson said as he hastily retreated into the TPC Deere Run clubhouse, ready to make a swift exit from the grounds and head to his hotel. His 7 a.m. tee time would come soon enough.
“Quite a round,” Damon Green, Johnson’s caddie, was told as he left the course.
“He didn’t miss a shot,” Green replied.
It was a lot of waiting and preparing for nothing. Sunset on a sunny day here would have been around 8:10 p.m., but the sun has been saving itself for the weekend here.
The Tour wanted as much golf as possible to get played Friday because Saturday will be plenty backed up. The 30 players who finished their second rounds Friday and appear to have made the cut have to feel fortunate.
Rain ran amok in the Quad Cities Thursday afternoon and night, and again Friday evening. Thursday’s first round had a 3 1/2-hour delay. The suspended first round was supposed to resume at 7 a.m., Friday, but that was changed to 10, 11, and finally, noon.
So, Johnson’s scheduled 1:30 p.m. tee time was shoved all the way back to 7:50 p.m., the last time anyone was scheduled to start. With sunset around 8:10, it was a given his threesome would finish one hole at the most.
Johnson followed his normal pre-round routine on the practice areas, got to the first tee, and was told that the Tour wanted his group to hit their tee shots and second shots before calling it a night.
The scene at the No. 1 tee was a bit surreal. Just a few dozen fans were left to watch two of the tournament’s biggest draws in Johnson and Stricker. The ones without umbrellas got soaked, though the rain tapered off in less than 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, Wesley Bryan leads everyone who has or hasn’t finished. He shot a 64 Friday to get to 12-under overall.
Bryan, a 26-year-old South Carolinan, won his third Web.com Tour event of the season last weekend. When you win three times in a season on that Tour, you get a “battlefield promotion” to the PGA Tour. After winning the Web.com tourney in Overland Park, Kan., Sunday, he immediately changed his itinerary and headed for Moline.
Bryan will qualify for next year’s Masters and a lot more if he still is in front when Sunday’s play is over.
“You don’t tee it up to lose, you don’t tee it up to not be in contention,” Bryan said. “It’s definitely way more fun up near the top of the leaderboard than it is clawing and scrapping to make a cut.
“Yeah, I definitely enjoy being up near the top of the leaderboard.”
Johnson’s day wasn’t a total washout. He saw “Pete’s Dragon” with his kids, wife and parents.
Dave Johnson, Zach’s dad, gave the film a strongly favorable review. Making it even better, it was dry inside the theater.