It took years for Zach Johnson to feel comfortable at his almost-hometown tournament.
These days, Johnson is as relaxed as anyone in the field — and that’s a major reason why he’s in early position to repeat as the champion of the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill.
Johnson shot a 7-under 64 and is tied with Camilo Villegas for the lead after the opening round.
It was the 17th straight round in the 60s at TPC Deere Run for Johnson, who grew up about 100 miles away in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Matt Bettencourt made the field as a late alternate and shot a 6-under 65. He’s tied for second with Daniel Summerhays and Brendon de Jonge.
Boo Weekley is among a host of players at 5-under 66, while three-time champion Steve Stricker is at 4-under 67 heading into Friday’s second round.
“I’ve just gotten so used to just everything about this tournament,” Johnson said.
It wasn’t always that way. Johnson finished 69th five years ago after shooting 75 and 71 in the final two rounds — but he hasn’t touched 70 since.
2 Women shoot 63
Angela Stanford and Catriona Matthew shot eight-under 63s to share the first-round lead at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, two strokes ahead of world No. 1 Inbee Park.
Park is trying to become the first to win four straight LPGA Tour events since Lorena Ochoa in 2008.
Park was joined by American Irene Cho, Spain’s Belen Mozo and South Korea’s Hee Young Park and Meena Lee at 65.
Mickelson starts fast
Phil Mickelson hit his stride early at the Scottish Open in Inverness. He shot a 6-under 66 and is two shots behind leader John Parry.
After a three-putt bogey on his first hole, Mickelson breezed around the Castle Stuart course with six birdies and an eagle at No. 12.
Mickelson, ranked No. 8 in the world, is trying to win in Europe for the first time in 20 years and tune up for next week’s British Open at Muirfield.
PAIR SHARE UTAH LEAD
Brian Pouty and B.J. Staten share the lead at 8-under 63 after the first round of the Web.com Tour’s Utah Championship in Sandy, Utah.
Former University of Washington player Alex Prugh was tied for 15th after a 5-under 66.
University Place’s Michael Putnam, the tour’s leading money winner who tied for runner-up at last year’s tournament, shot a 2-under 69 and was tied for 66th. Brother Andrew Putnam was at even-par 71 – good for a tie for 112th.
SNEAD STUFF AUCTIONED
Sam Snead’s Masters trophy from his epic 1954 playoff with Ben Hogan, the claret jug from his only British Open win, at St. Andrews, and the gold medal for the 1942 PGA Championship, the first of his seven major titles, are among 14 lots from the Sam Snead Collection that will be auctioned off by Heritage Auctions next month in Chicago.
The first offering is Aug. 1-2, but online bidding began Wednesday.
Other auctions are planned for the fall and next spring.
Snead’s son, Jack Snead, said the proceeds would likely to go charity.
Snead died in 2002, and was the most prolific winner in PGA Tour history with 82 victories.