SILVIS, Ill. (AP) – Masters champion Zach Johnson hoped to jump into contention at the John Deere Classic on Friday. Instead, he missed the cut.
Johnson shot an even-par 71 for a 36-hole total of 141, 11 behind leader Nathan Green and one off the cut, leaving the event without its main attraction.
Green grabbed the lead with a second-round 63 that had him one stroke in front of Jason Dufner (66) and Carl Pettersson (64). First-round leader Neal Lancaster (68) was two strokes back.
Green, an Australian seeking his first tour victory, grabbed the lead on 17 when he knocked in a 4-foot putt for birdie – his eighth of the day – to go 12 under.
He spent three weeks relaxing at home in New South Wales after missing the cut at the U.S. Open. The time off helped.
“I was just happy to be playing golf again,” Green said. “Before I went home, the U.S. Open was my last event and I was frustrated and stressed out and not really enjoying playing. That was the reason for the break.”
With many of the top golfers overseas preparing for next week’s British Open, the Deere Classic attract a field full of unknowns and faded stars. One exception was Johnson, a two-time winner this year, including the year’s first major.
Also missing the cut were Lee Janzen (even), John Daly (6 over) and defending champion John Senden of Australia (7 over).
Johnson ended the round with a flourish, sending a 153-yard approach within a few feet of the cup to set up a birdie on the par-4 18th. But overall, this was not a good week.
Although he grew up just over an hour away in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and considers this his home event, Johnson had never finished higher than 20th. And the form that carried him to a shocking victory at Augusta was nowhere in sight.
After shooting a 70 in the first round, Johnson got off to a good start Friday when he made a 7-footer for birdie on the first hole, drawing a roar from the gallery. The momentum stalled with a bogey on No. 2, and things really crumbled on the back nine, when he bogeyed 11, 12 and 14.
His tee shot on 14 landed in a bunker, and things were about to get worse. Johnson flipped his club in frustration after he knocked the ball over the green and into the woods, and his third shot went only a few feet.
“Obviously disappointing,” Johnson said. “This is one of those jobs, if you will, that you’ve got to get over pretty quick. I’m accustomed to that. I never like missing cuts, especially by a shot, especially being close to home.”