• John Deere Classic, Round Four

Stunning approach earns Zach Johnson play-off win

ESPN staff
July 15, 2012
Zach Johnson hit an incredible approach on the second play-off hole at the John Deere Classic © PA Photos


Troy Matteson, the long-time leader of the John Deere Classic, allowed his stranglehold on the competition to loosen with four holes remaining as Zach Johnson triumphed after a two-hole play-off in Illinois.

Matteson had led every round of the tournament following his sparkling 61 on the opening day. However, as Johnson applied constant pressure on Sunday, Matteson cracked when he double-bogeyed at the 15th, and it opened a big enough window for Johnson to force the play-off from which he secured victory.

That error at the 15th from Matteson removed him from the top of the leaderboard and Johnson capitalised by birdying 17 to move two clear. Matteson's challenge had not dissipated, with a magnificent 60-foot eagle putt lifting him level with Johnson once more.

Needing a birdie at the 18th to win, controversy struck when Matteson's ball was picked up by a naive spectator. The incident was not worthy of any penalty, but Matteson failed to find the birdie required as he and Johnson went to a play-off after finishing on 20-under.

Johnson eventually settled matters at the second extra hole, thanks to a sensational 192-yard approach to within inches of the pin, which secured his ninth PGA Tour title. Victory was built on an error-free platform, which was aided by his powerful game off the tee.

Another American, Scott Piercy, claimed sole possession of third after he had earlier given himself an outside chance of victory when he reached the clubhouse on 18-under.

England's Gary Christian failed to make any impression over the closing 18 holes, recording an even-par 71 to finish on 12-under. Battling with his putter, Christian hit three bogeys before the turn and was always wrestling with his game from that point onwards.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.