Sports

John Deere Classic rout for Michael Kim, good feels for Zach Johnson

Johnson heads to British Open after his 64 Sunday at John Deere Classic

Michael Kim peers over his sunglasses to see where his tee shot landed on the fourth hole during final-round play at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill. Kim was the runaway winner. (Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports)
Michael Kim peers over his sunglasses to see where his tee shot landed on the fourth hole during final-round play at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill. Kim was the runaway winner. (Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports)

SILVIS, Ill. — Would you bet a 10-pound note on Zach Johnson to win the British Open next Sunday?

Johnson is listed at 80-to-1 to win the Open at Carnoustie Golf Links by British wager-taker Ladbrokes. He was 80-1 when he won the 2015 Open at St. Andrews, by the way. He hasn’t won a tournament since, but his caddie thinks his employer has the good feels.

“I think we’re starting to shape up and he loves playing the British Open,” Damon Green said Sunday before heading to a Bettendorf laundromat. “I hear the course is hard and fast, and that could be right up our alley.

“He’ll have a good week next week. I’m excited.”

That was said after Johnson shot a bogey-free, 7-under-par 64 at TPC Deere Run to finish 14-under and tie for 16th place in the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic. Which was 13 shots behind champion Michael Kim, whose 27-under is a JDC record.

But the whole field got lapped by Kim, who prevailed by eight strokes after being listed last week as 200-1 to win the tourney.

Johnson echoed Green’s remarks about the week ahead.

“I’m very excited,” Johnson said. “I’m very, very excited. But I was excited coming into this week, too.

“I think, if anything, I might have got a little too in front of myself Thursday, Friday as far as just outcome, scorecard thoughts. Maybe forced it a little bit.”

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Johnson finished Friday’s second round at 3-under, just on the good side of the 36-hole cut line. His 67-64 weekend finish was much more reflective of how he’s played here over the last decade.

“Tell you what,” he said, “there was a part of me that was OK missing the cut. It was so painfully hot and humid. But now you know you have an opportunity on the weekend to move up the board.”

Which he did. Johnson had something good to sleep on Sunday night while on John Deere’s chartered Boeing 767 for players headed to the Open.

Green suggested all that was on Johnson’s plate from the previous weekend at his foundation’s charity event in Cedar Rapids to the Sunday here may have affected him.

“I think this year it kind of got to him,” Green said. “He was really, really tired on Friday. I think all the hugs and kisses from earlier in the week probably got to him a little bit.

“The heat and humidity and just being exhausted from all he had to do, I don’t know how he does it. It’s hard work.”

Here’s what will probably change in Johnson’s future mid-July schedules: Nothing.

“It’s probably a little bit of chaos with a little bit of excitement with a little bit of stress with a little bit of sheer joy, too,” Johnson said. “I mean, it’s kind of all that in one, you know?

“I wouldn’t change one ingredient or one second of it. There is a reason why our event is Sunday/Monday of this week leading into (the JDC), because it’s very, very convenient. Just works out really well for all parties.

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“It’s difficult to a degree. But I’m fine. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.”

Kim missed the cut in the Tour’s tourney in West Virginia a week earlier. He was one of 11 Tour players flown from there to Cedar Rapids last Sunday night for the next day’s golf event at Elmcrest Country Club. One of his amateur playing partners there was SG Kim, president of PMX Industries in Cedar Rapids.

“At the pairing party session on Sunday evening,” SG Kim said, “our team picked Michael Kim saying that, if Michael won the John Deere Classic this weekend, we would have a great story to tell in multiple decades to come. Now I am excited to see what we said has come true.”

Michael Kim turned 25 Saturday. He had just one previous top-10 finish over three years on the Tour, but his victory didn’t surprise one of his peers.

“I think it’s absolutely 100 percent fantastic,” Johnson said. “I’m a huge fan and a friend. I consider myself a friend. He would probably say mentor or older guy.

“He’s had some struggles and shouldn’t, because he’s really, really, really, really, really good.”

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

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