Sports

Hot, long, wet, draining day at John Deere Classic

Sean McCarty, Zach Johnson play past 8 p.m., Saturday

Caddy Damon Green and golfer Zach Johnson line up a putt on the 13th hole during the third round of the John Deere Classic Saturday at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. (Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports)
Caddy Damon Green and golfer Zach Johnson line up a putt on the 13th hole during the third round of the John Deere Classic Saturday at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. (Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports)

SILVIS, Ill. — The word “grind” has been ground to dust in sports.

No one works anymore. Instead, they grind. No one practices, either. They grind. They stay on their grind. Or they get back on their grind.

Baristas actually do grind. Coffee, that is. When they became baristas instead of coffee-preparers is another story.

But I’m here to tell you, it really was a grind Saturday at the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic. It was hot. Humid. Sticky. Stifling. And it contained two play-stoppages for bad weather.

“It’s been a long day,” Zach Johnson said at 8:20 p.m. after completing his third round with a 4-under-par 67 to get to 7-under overall. “I’m spent.”

The day was long, all right. Sean McCarty of Solon and Zach Johnson were supposed to start third-round play at 11 and 11:10 a.m., respectively. But a suspension for rain and lightning started at 10:38 and stretched to 1:11 p.m.

McCarty began his round at the 10th tee around 1:30, Johnson at 1:40. It felt like elements could cause another storm most of the rest of the afternoon.

Just as McCarty left the 17th green and Johnson arrived there, a sign on a nearby electronic scoreboard told us to expect severe weather. That hung over everyone’s heads literally and figuratively for the next two hours.

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At spots on the course, warning beeps emitted from spectators’ cellphones notifying them that a flash flood warning for this area was in effect until 10:45 p.m. It had rained a lot here. There was a 50-minute suspension of play late Friday afternoon followed by a storm in the early evening that shut play down for the day.

That meant tee times and pairings for Saturday weren’t known until what little was left to finish of the second round was done so Saturday morning.

Then when it started raining hard late in the morning, the grounds crew of TPC Deere Run started grinding, just as they had several hours before. How the staff got the standing water out of bunkers and off the fairways was a tribute to American engineering, or something like that.

But play went on, and on. Even with thunder rolling in the distance periodically. Until, that is, the horn sounded at 5:53 p.m. McCarty was looking at a 58-foot putt on No. 6, his 15th hole of the day. He was at 3-under for the tourney, and it looked like he needed to get one more stroke under par to make it into the top 70 and ties to play in Sunday’s final round.

The PGA Tour has something called MDFs (made cut, didn’t finish) when 78 or more players make the 36-hole cut. Eighty-two players made the cut here, forcing a secondary cut Saturday.

McCarty parred No. 6 when play resumed, but missed a 3-foot par putt at 7 and also bogeyed 8. He sank a 26-foot birdie putt at 9 for a 72, leaving him 2-under for the tourney and two shots below that secondary cut line.

“I warmed up four times today,” McCarty said. “It was tough after that rain delay, but I didn’t have any excuses. I missed a lot of opportunities. It was one of those days. I couldn’t get anything going.”

McCarty does get a check for making the 36-hole cut, between $10,000 and $11,000.

He leaves this big tour behind to play in the Waterloo Open and Greater Cedar Rapids Open the next two weekends. He has qualified for the PGA Championship in St. Louis Aug. 9-12.

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“This was a good experience,” McCarty said, “better than I’ve ever had out here (at Deere Run, where he had been 0-for-3 in making 36-hole cuts). It’s been that kind of summer. Things are kind of clicking.”

Johnson, tied for 39th, will play on Sunday. But his round ended in aggravation when he missed a 3-foot par putt at No. 9 for his only bogey of the day.

It’s probable that he had never had a smaller following in his 17 years at this event than the smattering of people who remained to see his final few holes. It was a grind for the fans, too, and nearly all left Deere Run long before play was done.

l Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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