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Zach Johnson shares the lead at John Deere Classic

Updated: Saturday, 12 Jul 2014 09:37 | Comments

Zach Johnson was beaten in a play-off at the tournament last year
Zach Johnson was beaten in a play-off at the tournament last year

William McGirt and Zach Johnson shared the lead at the midway point of the John Deere Classic after carding respective second rounds of 66 and 67 at TPC Deere Run on Friday.

McGirt had a less than ideal start to his round after starting from the 10th and was one over for the day through six holes following bogeys on 11 and 15, but got back on track with a run of seven birdies in 10 holes from the 17th.

A bogey on nine left the 35-year-old "regular guy" from North Carolina on 12 under - he was later joined on that mark by 2007 Masters champion Johnson - and feels his years of hard work are paying off.

"I love being in this position because you can go about your business and nobody really knows who you are," he said on www.pgatour.com.

"You can go to dinner, and people ask, 'Are you a golfer? What's your name?'

"I like to go out, play golf, have a few beers and watch a football game," he said. "Nothing flashy about me. Nothing that stands out. I'm just like everybody in this room, like everybody out at this tournament.

"I didn't grow up very well off. I've never been the most talented guy out here. I've had to work for everything I have gotten. Everything I have gotten out of the game, I have pretty much earned through hard work. That's just me in a nutshell."

However comfortable McGirt may be to be under the radar, though, he is keen to raise his profile this weekend.

"You play well, people are going to follow you," he said. "It's something you kind of have to thrive on. I mean, if you can't deal with it, you're in the wrong profession."

First-round co-leader Johnson, defeated in a play-off by Jordan Spieth as defending champion last year, picked up seven birdies on Friday, bogeys on the third, 15th and 18th holes meant he signed for a four-under 67.

Australian Steven Bowditch (67) was a shot off the pace in a tie for third along with Americans Johnson Wagner (65) and Brian Harman (68).

Three-time former champion Steve Stricker (65), 2004 Open champion Todd Hamilton (69), Ryan Moore (67) and Rory Sabbatini (70) were three strokes behind the leaders.

Defending champion Spieth, playing alongside Stricker, got firmly back in the hunt - following a first-round 71 - with a seven-under-par 64.

"I hit some better wedges. I wasn't missing greens with wedges," he said. "(On Thursday) I struggled. I went to the range afterwards to try to figure out what was off.

"I got out there and hit a good wedge on the first hole to get some confidence going, and a good iron on the second and I was off and running."

Charles Howell III, meanwhile, made his sixth career hole in one with a gap wedge from 132 yards at the par-three third en route to a 68 which left him eight under overall.

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