Loupe leads Deere, but work left in 1st round

Writing from Silvis, Illinois

Thursday, August 11, 2016

It was stop-and-go golf in the first round of the 46th John Deere Classic, and a good portion of the field didn’t even finish.

That’s why it can’t be said with certainty that Zach Johnson, Ryan Moore and Patrick Rodgers will be leading at TPC Deere Run when the last first-rounder turns in his scorecard. But among those who had finished, they shared the clubhouse lead at nightfall after rounds of 6-under-par 65, the best of a day that turned soggy.

The uncertainty comes courtesy of Andrew Loupe, who went around the first 14 holes of Deere Run in 8-under-par before the play was stopped because of darkness at 7:52 p.m. He has an eight footer to save par on the par-4 15th when play resumes at 7 a.m., and then three more holes after that. You can’t predict with Loupe, a third-year PGA Tour regular whose first-round 64 last week tied him for the lead in the Travelers, which he followed with a 76 to miss the cut for the seventh straight time.

“Fourteen and a half holes is not very much,” Loupe said. “I think I got caught up in it last week. I’m not going to get caught up in it this week.”

Loupe called the remaining eight-footer “puttable,” but footprints on the soft turf and the decision of another player farther away on his line not to putt convinced him to wait until the morning.

So he gets to think about it, and the rest of the field gets to think about him.

Tom Gillis is also 6-under, albeit with two holes left in his round.

Of the leading finishers, Johnson is the headliner, the Cedar Rapids native and a former winner who sits on the John Deere Classic board. He was followed by a large portion of the gallery on Thursday, at least before the horn blew at 11:38 a.m. signaling the arrival of a thunderstorm that dropped 1.09 inches of rain on the tournament parade. Johnson was 5-under at the time and added one more birdie in his five post-delay holes to follow Rodgers and Moore in with a 65.

His was the only bogey-free round of the three, which shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s his 12th spotless circuit of the D.A. Weibring layout.

“It was a solid day, not many mistakes,” Johnson said. “If I did get in trouble, I got out in a pretty consistent, good way.”

It would have been a surprise if Johnson wasn’t at least close to the lead. He ran his string of under-70 rounds at Deere Run to 21.

The presence of Moore and Rodgers wasn’t surprising either. It was Moore’s 21st straight under-par round on the course, while Rodgers, after missing the cut the last two years, returned to the form he showed in 2013, when he challenged for the lead as an amateur and finished tied for 15th.

“I definitely feel a hometown feeling here,” Rodgers said. “It’s my fifth time here, and people are incredibly generous.”

He also said missing the cut the last two year and not duplicating or bettering his amateur performance “left a bitter taste.”

Tying for second at last week’s tournament in Hartford, Conn., following some swing changes, helped his confidence as well.

“I’m hitting it flush and consistently through the bag,” Rodgers said.

Now all he needs is success. Moore would like more of it. He’s made the cut the previous seven years he’s played but never finished better than seventh, two years ago.

“It’s a course I’ve grown to like over the years,” Moore said. “Some courses set up well for me and this is definitely one of them. There are angles of play, and that means guys who hit it longer than me don’t have a significant advantage.”

Moore hit 10 of 14 fairways and 15 greens in the first round, with his five birdies and an eagle – on the par-5 17th – offsetting a bogey.

Around Deere Run

Erik Compton was disqualified from the tournament before it even began thanks to not being on site for Wednesday’s pro-am. Listed as the second alternate for the afternoon wave, he was in Detroit and flying in on Wednesday when two players pulled out of the tournament. They were in the afternoon half of the pro-am. With Compton not on the grounds, he was DQed from the tournament for missing the pro-am tee time he didn’t know he had but had to be ready for regardless. Jim Furyk was disqualified for a tournament for missing a pro-am a few years ago, but he overslept. ... The last groups in the afternoon wave have played only seven holes, and nobody in that half of the field has finished. ... The second round is scheduled to begin at 8:20 a.m., a hour later than planned. If expected bad weather misses, there’s a good chance the cut can be made on Friday night. ... D.A. Points went around in 3-under 68, the same as last year, when he missed the cut for the ninth time in 10 starts. He opened with a 66 the only time he’s cashed. ... Geoff Ogilvy, on hand for the first time in a dozen years, went out in 6-under 30 on the back and is 5-under through 12 holes.

Tim Cronin

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