For the second time this season, Zach Johnson is a winner on the PGA Tour after a playoff victory Sunday at the John Deere Classic. Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion and board member of the John Deere beat Troy Matteson on the second playoff hole after both golfers finished at -20. The tournament had no shortage of drama coming down the final stretch – a theme that has been commonplace this year on Tour. Matteson seemed all but out of it after a double bogey on 15 put him two strokes behind Johnson. However, after making a 60-foot eagle putt on no.17, he was right back in it. On the first playoff hole both golfers ended up hitting into the water hazard and making double bogey, but, on the second playoff hole Johnson hit what could be the shot of the year so far. A fairway bunker shot from nearly 200 yards ran up to less than a foot from the hole and the victory was all but sealed. Both golfers managed to hold off a surging Steve Stricker who was looking to win the event for the fourth straight year but came up just short. Johnson, who won the Crowne Plaza Invitational earlier this season is now fifth in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings and second in Fed-Ex Cup points.
Singh-ing in the Rain
After multiple days of awful weather in Scotland at the famed Castle Stuart golf course it was veteran journey man Jeev Milkha Singh who emerged victorious at the Scottish Open. The 40-year-old Indian drained a 15-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat Francesco Molinari and punch his ticket to the British Open this week.
Singh, who at one point held membership on three different professional golf tours around the world, finished about an hour before the other golfers on the course and had to wait in the clubhouse until he found out that he indeed was in a playoff. While waiting, he enjoyed a cup of tea and a piece of chocolate cake and later commented that the win was indeed the ‘icing’ on the cake of a great week. World number 1 Luke Donald finished well back, tied for 16th, along with former British Open champion Padraig Harrington. Phil Mickelson, who was a last minute addition to the field, also finished t-16 but must have been happy with his turnaround performance. After shooting seven straight rounds over par, his game finally came into fine form just in time for the year’s third major.
Golf in the Kingdom
This month, ScoreGolf magazine released it’s ‘Top 100 Golf Courses in Canada’ issue. The list, which is announced every two years, is always a hot topic of conversation among golfers and the golf media in Canada. There are more than 100 panelists who submit their personal top-10 based on a variety of categories (and no, I’m not one of the panelists, although hope to be one day) and the whole thing is organized by Jason Logan, the managing editor for ScoreGolf. The list doesn’t yet feature Cabot Links – already hailed as one of the best courses in Canada despite being open to the public for less than a month – but it will be interesting to see where it lands in 2014. I’ve played five of the courses on the list: Black Bear Ridge (no.99) in Belleville, Summit (no.80) in Richmond Hill, Wooden Sticks (no.87) in Uxbridge, Rosedale (no. 46) in Toronto, and Angus Glen (no.76) in Markham (and also walked the grounds of Shaughnessey, St. Georges, and Glen Abbey at Canadian Opens) which is a far cry from Canadian golf journalist Robert Thompson who has played all 100. It’s hard to argue with the positioning of some of the courses on the list, but I’m most surprised at Shaughnessy’s drop from no.13 to no.21. It hosted an excellent Canadian Open last year and the pros all raved about the course; a very surprising retreat down the list. We’ll see where everyone ends up again in two years. The full list can be found here.
Champion Golfer of the Year
One of the coolest titles and trophies (the Claret Jug) in golf go to the winner of this week’s British Open (or, ‘Open Championship’ if you’re a true Brit and feel it should be called by it’s rightful name), the third major of the year in men’s professional golf. The Open returns to hallowed (but aren’t all British Open courses somehow ‘hallowed?) grounds of Royal Lytham & St. Annes on the shores of Lancashire, England for the first time since David Duval’s lone major triumph in 2001. I was invited to enter in a major golf pool and since we’ve got to pick ten golfers – highest total prize money wins the pot – I’d figure I’d share my picks here. In no particular order: Tiger Woods, Branden Grace, Ernie Els, Mark Calcavecchia, Lee Westwood, Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner, Harris English, Luke Donald, Alvaro Quiros