Zach Johnson with unusual first round finish at John Deere Classic

Zach Johnson with unusual first round finish at John Deere Classic”

Roberto Diaz shot a 9-under 62 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the John Deere Classic. He's out of the Top 100 World Golf Rankings for the first time in 15 years, and he hasn't had a Top-10 finish since November.

The Mexican has a two-stroke advantage over Americans Adam Long and Russell Henley after carding an eagle and seven birdies to get to nine under par.

Henley, meanwhile, lamented a bogey at his final hole, where his drive found a nasty lie in punishing rough, but he otherwise saw some promising signs. I've been hitting a lot of fairways, and today I hit good numbers all day, and that helps. "It's just a matter of a few bumps here and there".

All eyes will be on 3M Open victor Matthew Wolff when the John Deere Classic gets underway at TPC Deere Run. "I didn't feel like I had to work too hard to make par, so just put the ball into play, and I'm thankful for a nice round".

"Coming into the week, I was extremely excited", Johnson told the Golf Channel.

He said there was a lot less stress thanks to the two-year exemption he received, but the game was the same challenge. And I've had three weeks off ... in those three weeks I worked really hard. "It just didn't today, for whatever reason".

Defending champion Michael Kim, who set the tournament record at Deere Run a year ago and won by eight shots, had a 73.

The 32-year-old from Veracruz fired the low round of his PGA career, one stroke under his opening round at New Orleans in April.

Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, the highest-ranked players in the field, opened with 67s - a score only slightly better than the field average on a day when 118 players broke par at The Renaissance Club, which was softened by heavy early-morning rain.

The week's best top-five finisher not already qualified for the British Open will receive a berth in next week's final major tournament of the year at Royal Portrush. The JDC provides a charter flight to players traveling to The Open on Sunday night.

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