First-Round Notes – Thursday, July 13, 2017
Weather: Partly sunny with a high of 83. Wind WNW 8-15 mph.
Charles Howell III 63 (-8)
Ollie Schniederjans 63 (-8)
Zach Johnson 65 (-6)
Patrick Rodgers 65 (-6)
Rory Sabbatini 65 (-6)
Charles Howell III
Two weeks after losing in a playoff at the Quicken Loans National to Kyle Stanley, Charles Howell III fired a bogey-free 63 in the first round of the John Deere Classic, marking his lowest score on TOUR since an 8-under 62 in the final round of the 2010 RSM Classic.
Here’s a look at Howell’s lowest opening rounds on the PGA TOUR:
61 2004 Booz Allen Classic 2nd
63 2003 Las Vegas Invitational T18
63 2005 Michelin Championship 5th
63 2017 John Deere Classic TBD
Four John Deere Classic winners have opened with a 63 or lower en route to a win: Steve Stricker (60/2012), David Frost (62/1992/Oakwood CC), Scott Hoch (63/1980/Oakwood CC) and Brian Harman (63/2014).
Howell made just his third professional start on TOUR in the 2000 John Deere Classic which resulted in his best performance in 10 previous starts at TPC Deere Run. Howell is making his 11th start where he has two top-fives: 2000 (3rd) and 2011 (T5). Today’s 63 is his lowest score in 39 rounds at TPC Deere Run, supplanting 64, which he has recorded thee rimes, most recently in round one of his last start in 2015 (T60).
This marks Howell’s seventh first-round lead/co-lead on the PGA TOUR. He most recently led after 18 holes at the 2016 Valspar Championship which resulted in a T5.
Howell has 16 runner-ups on the PGA TOUR and two wins. Making his 492nd start on the PGA TOUR this week, Howell is in search of his third TOUR victory and first since the 2007 Nissan Open at Riviera. It’s been 15 years since his first career TOUR victory, the 2002 Michelob Championship at Kingsmill.
Despite being out of competition due to a rib injury between the RBC Heritage in April and the Quicken Loans National the first of July, Howell is No. 23 in the FedExCup standings thanks to five top-10s and just one missed cut (season-opening Safeway Open) in 17 starts. Howell is one of 16 players who has advanced to the FedExCup Playoffs all 10 years. The Augusta, Ga., native is looking to return to the TOUR Championship in Atlanta for the first time since 2011.
With his runner-up at the Quicken Loans National, Howell earned an exemption to next week’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, which will mark his first Open Championship since 2012.
Playing in the afternoon, Ollie Schniederjans started on No. 10 with a lone bogey at the 18th, then played the front nine bogey-free, making birdies in three of his last four holes to tie Charles Howell III at 8-under 63. With a career-best nine birdies, Schniederjans’ 63 is his career-low round on the PGA TOUR.
This marks Schniederjans’ first lead/co-lead after any round on the PGA TOUR.
Schniederjans is making his first start in the John Deere Classic in his 36th start on the PGA TOUR.
Recently, Schniederjans has struggled in the first round, failing to post a sub-par opening round (in a stroke-play event) since the RBC Heritage in April.
A week ago, Schniederjans was disqualified from The Greenbrier Classic for incorrectly signing his scorecard in Friday’s second round.
Schniederjans earned his TOUR card by finishing 12th on the 2016 Web.com Tour priority list following a win at the Air Capital Classic presented by Aetna.
In 21 starts this season, Schniederjans is 59th in the FedExCup standings on the strength of four top-10s. He is seeking to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs for the first time.
First-Round Lead Notes
Since moving to TPC Deere Run in 2000, the only first-round leaders/co-leaders to hold on for the win were John Senden (2006) and Brian Harman (2014). There has never been a wire-to-wire winner at TPC Deere Run.
Only one player has ever led by more than two after the first round at the John Deere Classic: Troy Matteson/3 strokes/2012.
The first-round leader has emerged victorious just six of 34 times in stroke-play events on the PGA TOUR this season. The last to do so was Jordan Spieth at the Travelers Championship.
Zach Johnson and Patrick Rodgers both opened with 65s in the 2016 John Deere Classic to sit T3 after 18 holes.
Making his 16th start in the John Deere Classic, Zach Johnson opened with a 6-under 65, the 10th consecutive year he has opened with a round in the 60s. Johnson extends his streak of consecutive rounds of par-or-better to 34, 31 of which have been in the 60s.
In total, Johnson has 40 rounds below 70 at TPC Deere Run, the most of any player. Steve Stricker trails with 30 – add today).
Johnson opened with three consecutive birdies on Nos. 10-12, and totaled seven on the day. No one has more birdies at TPC Deere Run than Johnson who brought his total to 265. Steve Stricker is behind him with 241 + today.
In 16 starts on TOUR this season, Johnson has two top-10s and is No. 103 in the FedExCup standings, his highest position in the FedExCup standings since week #16 of last season.
Johnson’s lone bogey came at the par-4 fourth hole. Johnson holds the tournament record for most bogey-free rounds at TPC Deere Run, 12.
In 15 previous starts at the John Deere Classic, Johnson has one win (2012), three runner-ups (2009, 2013, 2014) and two third-place finishes (2011, 2015). Johnson has the most runner-ups in the event.
Johnson is in search of his 13th PGA TOUR title and first since the 2015 Open Championship. Of his 11 victories on U.S. soil, he has won in just four states; Texas (2008, 2009 Valero Texas Open, 2010, 2012 DEAN & DELUCA Invitational), Georgia (2004, 2007 AT&T Classic, 2007 Masters Tournament), Hawaii (2009 Sony Open in Hawaii, 2014 Tournament of Champions) and Illinois (2012 John Deere Classic, 2013 BMW Championship).
Johnson, winner of the 2007 Masters and 2015 Open Championship, is one of seven major winners in the 2017 John Deere Classic field, in addition to Angel Cabrera, Bubba Watson, Lucas Glover, Davis Love III, Geoff Ogilvy and Y.E. Yang.
Avon, Indiana native Patrick Rodgers recorded a bogey-free 6-under 65, his second consecutive year opening with a 65.
A two-time sponsor exemption of the John Deere Classic as an amateur in 2012 and 2013, Rodgers is making his sixth start in the tournament highlighted by a T15 in 2013, which remains the best finish by an amateur.
Rodgers has played the John Deere Classic more than any event on the PGA TOUR.
In 22 starts on TOUR this season, Rodgers has two top-10s and is No. 107 in the FedExCup. In his best result, he shared the third-round lead before finishing T4 at the Farmers Insurance Open. Rodgers has missed the cut in 13 starts, but has advanced to the weekend in his last three starts.
Making his sixth start in the John Deere Classic, Rory Sabbatini opened with a 6-under 65. His best showing in five previous starts is a T19 in 2012. Last year, he opened with a bogey-free 67 before finishing T62.
Sabbatini has failed to make the weekend in seven of his last eight starts on TOUR, including a withdrawal at the Wells Fargo Championship. He ended the streak with a T14 in last week’s The Greenbrier Classic, putting together three sub-70 rounds after opening with a 72.
Sabbatini’s nine birdies ties his career-best in a round (2016 Sanderson Farms Championship). He missed only one fairway – No. 11 which he birdied – and needed just 24 putts to complete his round.
Sabbatini is in search of his first top-10 on TOUR since the 2015 DEAN & DELUCA Invitational. Last year marked the first year on TOUR he failed to record a single top-10.
Additional Player Notes
A year ago, Wesley Bryan made his first start on TOUR as an official member at the 2016 John Deere Classic, having just earned the Three-Victory Promotion via the Web.com Tour. He posted a bogey-free 7-under 64 in the second round to take a share of the 36-hole lead with eventual-champion Ryan Moore. Third- and final-round scores of 70-70 resulted in a T8. This year, he opened with a 5-under 66 to sit three off the first-round lead.
Defending champion Ryan Moore ended a streak of 23 consecutive sub-par rounds at the John Deere Classic with a 3-over 74, tying his highest score in the event (2008/R3). Moore is coming off a shoulder injury which has sidelined him since a missed cut at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide.
Three-time John Deere Classic champion Steve Stricker posted a 2-over 73, the first time he has failed to break par in the first round since 2009.
The John Deere Classic continues its tradition of offering playing opportunities to deserving up-and-coming young players. Past invitees have included Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Patrick Rodgers. This year, there are three amateurs among the sponsor exemptions including Stanford’s Maverick McNealy (69) and University of Illinois’ players Dylan Meyer (70) and Nick Hardy (71).
The John Deere Classic is the final event of The Open Qualifying Series USA, offering one spot to the leading player (not otherwise exempt) who finishes in the top five and ties.
Six past John Deere Classic champions are in the field: Ryan Moore (2016), Brian Harman (2014), Zach
Johnson (2012), Steve Stricker (2009-2011), Jonathan Byrd (2007) and Sean O’Hair (2005).
Danny Lee withdrew after 18 holes, while Carl Pettersson withdrew after nine (wrist injury).
R1: K.J. Choi (68), Bryson DeChambeau (66), Gonzalo Fdez-Castano (69), Charles Howell III (63), Kevin Kisner (69), Maverick McNealy (69), Patrick Rodgers (65), Boo Weekley (68).
Early Scoring Average: 70.18
Late Scoring Average: 71.26
Scoring Averages at the par-71 TPC Deere Run:
Front 9 Back 9 Total Cumulative
R1: 34.916 35.800 70.716