Friday, December 2, 2022

2022 John Deere Classic leaderboard, grades: JT Poston goes wire-to-wire to earn second victory on PGA Tour

From start to finish, JT Poston was the clear class of the field at the 2022 John Deere Classic as he notched his second victory on the PGA Tour on Sunday. Becoming the third player in tournament history to successfully go wire-to-wire, Poston was able to carry last week’s momentum from TPC River Highlands to TPC Deere Run.

Finishing runner-up at the Travelers Championship, Poston opened his John Deere Classic in ideal fashion to the tune of 9-under 62. Never looking back, the 29-year-old went on to sign for rounds of 65-67-69 to finish at 21 under and three strokes clear of his nearest pursuers Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Emiliano Grillo.

Despite possessing a three-stroke lead coming into the final round and winning by said margin, there were a few hairy moments in his opening nine. After firing out of the gates with three consecutive birdies, Poston began to take on water when he made back-to-back bogeys on the fifth and sixth holes.

It was a testy par save on the par-3 seventh which steadied the ship as he would go on to make nine consecutive pars, forcing other players to attack pins, while he coasted along. Poston added another birdie on the par-5 17th for safe measure and extended his lead back to where he began the day.

Poston was cool, calm and collected, never blinking in the face of adversity. Seeing his lead shrink to as little as one stroke on the inward nine, he remained steadfast and as reward for his hard work will be featured on the PGA Tour for years to come. Not only will he gain entry into tournaments such as the Masters and Players Championship, but also the 150th Open in just two weeks’ time. Ranked 112th in the FedEx Cup just 14 days ago, Poston now finds himself 22nd in the season-long race and among the titans of the game. Grade: A+

Here is the breakdown for the rest of the leaderboard at the 2022 John Deere Classic

T2. Emiliano Grillo (-18): It has been a difficult season for the Argentinian as he has missed 12 cuts in 23 starts. However, when looked at more intently, Grillo has now made six of his last seven cuts and sprinkled in a few quality showings at the RBC Canadian Open and Memorial Tournament. He was able to cut Poston’s lead to a stroke on the back nine yet his inexplicable bogey on the short par-4 14th will be seen as the cause of his shortcomings. As a consolation prize, Grillo moves up 62 spots in the FedEx Cup Standings to No. 85 and punched his ticket to the 150th Open at St. Andrews. Grade: A

T4. Chris Gotterup (-17): The Haskins Award winner was fantastic in his John Deere Classic debut. Getting into the tournament via sponsors exemption, Gotterup wrote a letter to the tournament committee and was granted his request. This result puts him into the Korn Ferry Tour Finals and nearly did the same for the Open Championship as the top-three finishers inside the top 10 booked their trips to St. Andrews. While Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau kick started their careers with victories at TPC Deere Run, Gotterup has done the same albeit without the hardware to show for it.

“Yeah, just more validation that I do belong out here,” Gotterup said. “And honestly, I didn’t have my greatest stuff this week. Hit it amazing, but just putted pretty poorly until coming down the stretch. So, yeah, you pick up things along the way. Yeah, I draw on my experiences like Puerto Rico, and the last couple.” Grade: A

T6. Denny McCarthy (-16): It felt like the perfect storm for McCarthy coming into the week, but in the end it was not meant to be. A member of the penultimate group on Sunday, the University of Virginia product went in the wrong direction early in his round and will likely be kicking himself for doing so. Despite the recent disappointment, McCarthy is still in the midst of the best season of his career and rebounded nicely off a missed cut at the Travelers Championship. He often describes himself as a “grinder” so while he has shown capable of competing in these birdie-fests, his top-10 finishes at the Memorial Tournament and US Open may suggest his first win coming at a more difficult golf course. Grade: B+

T16. Sahith Theegala (-12): He nearly missed the cut but showed some resolve after opening his John Deere Classic with a 3-over 74. Carding consecutive rounds of 65 and culminating his week with a 68, Theegala climbed his way inside the top 20 by tournament’s end. With this effort, the Rookie of the Year candidate has now made 11 straight cuts on his own with his last weekend omission coming at the Players Championship in March. While he can occasionally be volatile, these peaks and valleys have a way of smoothing out over the course of a tournament. Twice a podium finisher in 2022, including a runner up at the Travelers Championship, it is only a matter of time that Theegala notches his first victory on the PGA Tour. Grade: B

Rick Gehman, Greg DuCharme and Kyle Porter recap the John Deere Classic and discuss the biggest takeaways from LIV Golf Portland. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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