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Golf

Zach Johnson On Autopilot, But Still Has Work To Do At 2013 John Deere Classic

Zach Johnson

David Butler II – USA TODAY Sports

Bobby Jones once famously said, “golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course, the space between your ears.” When it comes to tournament preparation, comfort equals confidence and more often than not, confidence translates into a high level of performance.

This week, nobody knows that feeling better than Zach Johnson.

Johnson, the defending champion of the John Deere Classic, finds himself in prime position heading into the weekend in Silvis, Ill. After a second-round 66, Johnson is tied for the tournament lead at 12-under-par along with Patrick Reed and Lucas Glover. Most impressively, however, is the fact that Johnson has yet to make a bogey this week. Counting today’s round, he has now fired a tournament-record nine bogey-free rounds at TPC Deere Run.

How does it feel to be in this kind of groove? If you ask Johnson, apparently it’s nothing too crazy. “In a good way, I feel like I’m going through the motions,” he said in his post-round media sessions. “I don’t know how you measure confidence in golf, but there’s a confidence level here for me.”

Well, I have an idea on how to start the measurement. For starters, Johnson hit 13 of 14 fairways in Thursday’s opening round, and 15 of 18 greens in regulation. On Friday, even though he was only 7-of-14 on his fairways hit, he recovered to hit 14 greens. Even when he missed greens, he chipped close and got up and down to save par. On the par-4 eighth hole, he skipped the putting altogether, holing his chip for birdie.

Still, as solidly as Johnson has played, he’s probably going to need just as much through the weekend to defend his title. Right now, there are 13 other players within three strokes of the lead. If we’ve learned anything from this tournament over the years, it’s that low numbers are out there for the taking.

On Friday, Chez Reavie posted the round of the tournament, going 10-under to redeem his first-round 71 and put himself in contention. Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, shot a nine-under 62, and he will be a contender as well.

Johnson said that this tournament gets him “fired up” when he comes to town. Even with a lot of work to do, you have to like the way he’s channeled all that energy so far.

Brandon Raper is a golf writer for RantSports.com. “Like” him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @Brandon__Raper, or add him to your Google+ network.