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Defending champ in position to bag another Deere

Johnson makes grade

SILVIS – Zach Johnson didn't bring his 'A' game to the John Deere Classic on Friday, but it was hard to argue with the result.

The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native took a big step toward defending his 2012 championship after posting a 5-under-par 66 for a two-day total of 130, tied for the midway lead with Lucas Glover and Patrick Reed.

Johnson extricated himself from a host of troublesome spots, with a chip-in birdie on No. 8 and a two-putt from 72 feet on the final green among his highlights.

"Today was a hard 66, and yesterday was a much easier 64," Johnson said. "I just didn't drive it as well. That's really what it boiled down to. I hit a couple of good drives that didn't turn out very well, too.

"But the positive side of it is I know I can play around here even if I don't drive it well and I don't hit it as well as I did [Thursday]. My short game was tremendous. I putted great, and I chipped it probably even better."

Johnson has now played 18 consecutive rounds at TPC Deere Run in the 60s, and Friday was his ninth bogey-free round in the event. He has yet to make a bogey in this year's event.

Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, has struggled this season. He's missed the cut in five of his last six events, with a tie for 57th at the AT&T National on June 27 breaking that streak. He's 95th on the money list with just under $700,000.

The 9-under-par 62 was a season-best for Glover, who missed a good chunk of the 2012 season with a left knee injury. He has made the cut in just nine of 19 events this season.

"I've obviously been struggling," Glover said. "I was ecstatic [Thursday] after 3 under, and just didn't hit it close enough [Thursday] to shoot really low, and I did that today. I got off to a good start both days, and then really kept it going today."

Reed is the Cinderella story of the tournament at the midway point. The PGA Tour rookie tied his career-best score with an 8-under 63 – heady stuff for a player who had to Monday qualify for half of his 12 starts last season.

He is best known for having his wife, Justine, as his caddie.

"A lot is going well right now," Reed said. "We're hitting the ball really solid, and you know, I mean, the past 27 holes, it seemed like every putt we hit that was on the right line went in."

Matt Jones, who tied for second at last week's PGA Tour event at the Greenbrier in West Virginia, is a stroke back at 131. At 132 are five players: Troy Matteson, Kevin Streelman, Jerry Kelly, David Hearn and Daniel Summerhays.

Matteson had one of two holes-in-one on Friday when he jarred a wedge on the 132-yard third hole.

"The last thing I thought before I hit the shot was, 'Let's try to make an ace here,'" Matteson said, "or I just said, 'You know what, let's just try to hit a good shot, kind of get some spin on it, bring it back down the hill, and leave ourselves a good putt.'

"Well, it was coming in there, and I go, 'Man, that looks pretty good.' It started coming back down the hill, and it just disappeared, and the guys behind the green went crazy."

The other hole-in-one was by Darron Stiles with a 7-iron on the 185-yard seventh hole. Stiles needed the ace, as he finished at 4-under 138 to make the cut on the number.

The last time there were two holes-in-one in the same round was 2007, when John Rollins and Greg Chalmers aced the seventh hole in the final round.

Lurking at 9-under-par 133 are a fivesome that includes Steve Stricker and Chez Reavie. Stricker had a 66 to put himself in position to win the title he took 3 years in a row (2009-11). Reavie had the round of the day, a 10-under 61.

Notes: It is the fourth consecutive year the cut score has been at 138. Seventy-one players, including amateur Patrick Rodgers (136), a sophomore at Stanford, will tee it up this weekend. … Among those missing the cut were 2006 JDC champ John Senden (139), last week's Greenbrier Classic champ Jonas Blixt (141), Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey (141), 2010 British Open champ Louis Oosthuizen (142), 2008 Masters champ Trevor Immelman (143) and Pekin native D.A. Points (146). … Twenty-six players in this year's JDC field will compete in next week's British Open, with the possibility of a 27th should the tourney winner not already be qualified for next week's major. John Deere supplies a company jet to take those players overseas on Sunday night.


130: Zach Johnson, Lucas Glover, Patrick Reed

131: Matt Jones

132: Troy Matteson, Kevin Streelman, Jerry Kelly, David Hearn, Daniel Summerhays

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