Johnson edges Matteson
Illinois - Zach Johnson birdied the second hole of a sudden death playoff Sunday to win the John Deere Classic ahead of Troy Matteson as Steve Stricker's three-year reign in the event ended.
Johnson blasted out of a fairway bunker to about a foot from the pin at the second playoff hole -- the 18th.
Matteson who had led after each of the first three rounds, was about 40 feet away after his approach shot from the fairway.
After Matteson left his long birdie attempt short and tapped in for par, Johnson stepped up and made his short putt for the victory.
"I think we're stating the obvious -- that was really good. That was my shot of the week," Johnson said of his spectacular bunker shot, which was from the same bunker he landed in when the pair opened the playoff at 18.
That time his shot out found the water hazard and he ended up with a double-bogey -- but so did Matteson after his punch out from the right rough also went into the water.
"All in all, you go into a playoff and lose to a shot like that, I mean, that's an unbelievable shot," Matteson said. "My hat's off to Zach. He drove it in the bunker twice and figured out a way to win."
The playoff followed an action-packed final round that saw Johnson erase a four-shot overnight deficit with a bogey-free six-under par 65 for 20-under 264. Matteson carded a one-under 69.
Johnson reached 20-under with a birdie at 17 and was walking to the 18th green with a two-stroke lead when Matteson, whose chances had dimmed with a double-bogey six at the 15th, rattled in a 60-foot eagle putt at 17.
Both parred the last to force the playoff.
"I'm not disappointed at all really," Matteson said. "I'm kind of shocked I got into a playoff because I just didn't play my best today, but kind of hung in there.
"Luckily that putt went in on 17," added Matteson, who made an aggressive stroke then watched as the ball spun around the rim and dropped to a roar from the gallery.
Stricker, who was trying to become just the fifth man to win four successive editions of the same tournament, settled for a one-under 70 that left him tied for fifth on 16-under 268, alongside Luke Guthrie (64).
Although he closed within one stroke of the lead at one point, Stricker said he never felt any momentum building.
"It was weird," he said. "I just didn't feel like something good was going to happen.
"I tried to hang in there, hit some really good iron shots, but just never really got any momentum seemed like."
American Scott Piercy was third with a 65 that left him two behind Johnson and Matteson on 266.
It was a further stroke back to Australian John Senden on 267. Senden shook off a double bogey at the first and thrust himself into contention with an eagle two at the par-four 14th, followed by his sixth birdie of the day at 15.
But Senden's challenge ended with bogeys at 16 and 17.
While Matteson missed out on a third career US PGA Tour title, his runner-up finish was enough to gain a place in the British Open starting Thursday at Royal Lytham.
"This will be my first time over there and I think I've tried to qualify about nine times and haven't gotten in," Matteson said.
Former Masters champion Johnson notched his ninth US tour victory and his second of the season.
Leading final-round scores on Sunday in the $4.6 million John Deere
Classic US PGA Tour event (x-won in playoff. USA unless noted; par-71):
264 - x-Zach Johnson 68-65-66-65, Troy Matteson 61-68-66-69
266 - Scott Piercy 65-69-67-65
267 - John Senden (AUS) 69-64-67-67
268 - Luke Guthrie 65-68-71-64, Steve Stricker 65-67-66-70
269 - Scott Brown 70-66-66-67
- Kevin Streelman 68-69-68-65, Lee Janzen 67-65-71-67, Ryan Moore
67-69-66-68, Chris DiMarco 66-67-68-69, Billy Hurley 68-68-64-70
- Ben Crane 66-67-73-65, Nick Watney 68-68-69-66, Tommy Gainey
69-66-69-67, K.J. Choi (KOR) 65-72-67-67, Erik Compton 68-69-66-68, J.J.
272 - Rory Sabbatini (RSA) 67-68-72-65, Kyle
Stanley 68-69-69-66, Seung-Yul Noh (KOR) 68-69-66-69, Brendon de Jonge
(ZIM) 68-68-67-69, Gary Christian (ENG) 65-66-70-71, Brian Harman
273 - Dicky Pride 67-68-73-65, Alex Cejka (GER)
67-68-71-67, Blake Adams 71-67-68-67, Stuart Appleby (AUS) 66-69-67-71,
Robert Garrigus 65-66-71-71
For gorgeous gifts at gorgeous prices, click here for the ultimate Christmas gift guide from Clicks.