Silvis - Zach Johnson is among 18 Americans using this
week's PGA John Deere Classic as a final tune-up for next week's British Open,
where he seeks a second win in three tries.
Johnson's 2015 victory at St. Andrews, defeating Australian
Marc Leishman and South African Louis Oosthuizen in a four-hole playoff,
brought his second major crown after taking the 2007 Masters.
And while Johnson appreciates those who travel to Europe
early, he doesn't want to miss what amounts to a hometown event. The TPC Deere
Run at Silvis, Illinois, is only an hour's drive from his birthplace in Iowa
"That Scottish Open is a great tournament,"
Johnson said. "It seems like they have really made it a priority to play a
links-style golf course. You really can't fault somebody to prepare for the
Open and the Scottish, they've really done a great job. You see more PGA Tour
players playing that event before the Open Championship.
"However, this tournament is making it attractive,
There's a flight that takes players directly from the event
to the British Open so there is as little lost time as possible. Adjusting to
the time difference and jet lag is a factor, but it does keep the US event
viable for those who don't mind missing the Scottish, which has included former
US Open and Masters winner Jordan Spieth, whose first pro win came at the John
Deere in 2013.
"Whether it's how Jordan has played here and gone over
there or myself, and then the fact that we'll get you there in a pretty timely
manner, there are no negatives. It's just a matter of priorities and desires
and probably families as to which selection you're going to take. Or just
taking the week off and going over early. There are options. I like being
There will be 19 players on the flight to England for next
week's third major showdown of the year at Royal Birkdale, assuming the one
available spot to a top finisher at the John Deere Classic is taken.
Johnson, defending John Deere champion Ryan Moore and
two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson are among the all-US group headed for
Europe on Sunday. The line-up includes amateur Maverick McNealy.
"I've gotten used to it," Johnson said of the Sunday
night flight to the Open. "I've got a system when I land there, and that
jet does help immensely, as to what I'm going to do and when I'm going to do
it. Rest is paramount. Working out is a paramount thing just because it gets me
going. Obviously then I can practice."
It doesn't hurt Johnson, 41, that his style suits the Open.
"I think my game is suited to it, just the overall
basis, the foundation is suited to it. I don't feel like I really have to
overly prepare," Johnson said. "Quality shots get rewarded no matter
what golf course you play. Over there, the wind, the other elements that are
involved, play a huge role in that. Actually probably a little bit more luck in
that tournament sometimes based on tee times.
"For the most part, I go into it just like any other
tournament and try to prepare that way. There are certain parts of the game
that in my practice rounds over there I emphasize and focus on more so. Putting
is obviously number one, but the greens there are just so different, slower.
Pin placements are on much more of an angle because the greens are slower, a
slope. So that's where I put my focus in more than anything."