SILVIS, Ill. — There was theater provided by a pair of 40-somethings from the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City corridor, though not the kind to get mentioned by Golf Digest or Golf Channel.
The two apparently will make the 36-hole cut of the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic Friday at TPC Deere Run by the skin of their putters. Both are 3-under-par, and 3-under was the cut line when play was suspended for the day at 7:26 p.m.
Two players at 3-under and three at 2-under have a few holes left to play Saturday morning before the third round begins, so 3-under isn’t the guaranteed cut line. But it’s unlikely four of those five players will improve to 4-under or better and raise the cut line (top 70 players and ties) to minus-4.
Boiled down, it means Johnson and McCarty will almost surely play again on Saturday. They are 13 shots behind leader Michael Kim, who gets a few Cedar Rapids points for playing in last Monday’s Zach Johnson Foundation Classic before becoming a birdie factory in the Quad Cities.
For a while Friday, Johnson looked like he would miss the cut here for the first time since 2007. For a while Friday, McCarty looked like he let making the cut slip away from him, too.
Both needed to take care of business on their final holes Friday, and did.
Johnson was at even-par after 10 holes. His second shot at 10 went into the pond bordering the green on the par-5. He missed a five-foot par putt on a hole that produces many more birdies than bogeys, and was three shots under the cut line with eight holes to play.
“By (holes) 5 or 6, I wasn’t feeling great,” Johnson said. “I felt like the gravity of the heat just hammered down on me.”
He rallied to birdie Nos. 11, 13 and 14 to get to 3-under before parring his way home.
“I just hit quality shots and gave myself chances,” he said.
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Johnson faced a par putt of under three feet on No. 17 late Friday afternoon when the horn sounded late to suspend play because of a weather warning.
He slammed his putter to the ground when the horn went off. He said that anger/frustration came from not taking advantage of a scoring opportunity on the hole. He nubbed a chip from the rough just off the 17th green on his third shot there before chipping within three feet for par.
Play resumed 50 minutes later. Johnson made the putt, then put his tee shot at 18 in a fairway bunker. But his second shot reached the green, and he made a five-footer for par to extend his streak of cuts made here to 11 years.
McCarty built a cushion Friday, surrendered all of it and a bit more, then found redemption on the final hole.
He began the day at 3-under, but climbed to minus-6 twice in his second round. The first time came when he eagled his first hole of the day (No. 10) from 72 yards out, and birdied No. 11. He slipped to 4-under, but birdied Nos. 2 and 3 on his second nine to get back to minus-6.
Then came bogeys at 5 and 6, and a double-bogey at 8. To have any chance of making the cut, he needed a birdie at the course’s second-hardest hole Friday, the 503-yard, par-4 No. 9.
McCarty’s drive was straight and long, 342 yards. His approach was straight and pure, settling five feet from the cup. His birdie putt? Perfect.
“Pray,” McCarty replied when asked how he would spend his afternoon waiting to find out if he would make a PGA Tour cut for the first time since he tied for 23rd in the then-Quad City Classic in 1997.
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“It’s been a long time since I made the cut (in a PGA Tour event), so obviously it was my goal for the week,” McCarty said.
“I was just kind of leaking oil there coming down to the end. It was good to know I did it (on the final hole) when I needed it. I hit a great drive, I hit a great second shot off the downhill lie. Luckily, I made the putt.”
What does it mean to make a cut on the best of all golf tours?
“It means I can hang with these guys still, a little bit,” McCarty said.
He did so in front of friends and fans from his West Branch hometown, from Solon where he lives, and from elsewhere in Johnson and Cedar counties.
“I’m dragging tail and they’re cheering me on,” said McCarty. “That was awesome.”
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