Sun, Jul 13, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Johnson, McGirt tied in 1st

AP, SILVIS, Illinois

Zach Johnson and William McGirt were at 12-under-par 130 and tied for the lead at the halfway point of the John Deere Classic.

They were a stroke ahead of Steven Bowditch, Johnson Wagner and Brian Harman.

Three-time Deere winner Steve Stricker shot a 65 on Friday for a 133 total to vault into contention at the par-71 TPC Deere Run and was tied for sixth with Rory Sabbatini, Ryan Moore and Todd Hamilton.

Johnson, the Deere winner in 2012, shot a 4-under 67 in the afternoon despite two bogeys in his last four holes. That dropped him into a tie with McGirt.

McGirt, 35, is looking for his first PGA Tour victory.

He added a 66 to his opening 64, but, like Johnson, he finished with a bogey. McGirt’s best finish this year is a tie for sixth in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera.

Since then, he has had one Top 10 and has missed the cut in seven out of 14 tournaments.

McGirt is winless on the PGA Tour in 111 starts, most of them in the past four years. His best finishes are a pair of ties for second in the Canadian Open, in 2012 and last year.

One thing McGirt has not been doing well recently is sinking putts, but he has needed just 24 in each of the first rounds.

“For some reason, I’m able to see the line this week,” McGirt said. “I feel I’ve putted better the last few weeks and haven’t holed anything.”

Bowditch opened his round with an eagle 3 on the 10th hole en route to a 67, while Wagner made it to 12 under before a bogey on his last hole.

Stricker matched McGirt’s 5-under 30 on Deere Run’s front nine to finish his round.

Hamilton used a 69 to get to 133, while Moore shot 67 and Sabbatini shot 70.

Jerry Kelly and Charles Howell III were among those at 8 under. Howell, who shot 68, aced the uphill 132-yard third hole.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth was five strokes off the lead thanks to a 64 for 7-under 135. He was five back after two rounds last year.

Johnson’s victory in 2012 is not his only good finish at the Deere. He lost in a playoff last year, tied for second in 2009, and tied for third in 2011. He also sits on the tournament’s board of directors.

“I’m going to have a lot of friends outside the ropes, and it’s terrific,” Johnson said. “They don’t care if I shoot 62 or 82. They’re still going to be on my side. Trying to play for them may have been part of the issue years ago, but not anymore.”

The cut fell at 2-under-par 140, with 77 players making it. Former world No. 1 David Duval withdrew after an opening 81.

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