The fact that Zach Johnson is tied for the lead at the John Deere Classic after one round shouldn’t surprise anyone. What is surprising, however, is the fact that his co-leader at seven under par is Camilo Villegas. The pair certainly still has their work cut out for them if either hopes to go wire to wire, as there are currently 20 players within three shots of the lead – and that group includes Steve Stricker who dominates this course. Those three shots can disappear very quickly on a track as scoring-friendly as TPC Deere Run.
Villegas finds himself atop the leaderboard thanks to a red hot putter. He averaged 1.467 putts in the first round, putting him in second place in that category. This is a huge development for him, as Villegas ranked 83rd on the PGA Tour in total putting and 124th in strokes gained – putting heading into this week. He hasn’t played particularly well off of the tee this year, either, but despite the shaky play he still ranks 35th in scoring. If Villegas is able to get the putter rolling true this week he could very well make some noise.
As I said, it’s not shock that Johnson is in this position. He is the defending champion and is perpetually under par every time he sets foot on the course. The fact that he grew up just 90 minutes from the venue makes this event even more special for Johnson.
There is still a lot of golf left to be played, but the emergence of Villegas this week could be an interesting storyline to keep an eye on.