Reuters - Wed, 07 Jul 16:40:00 2010
Former Masters champion Zach Johnson said he felt at home at the John Deere Classic and hoped to build his case for a Ryder Cup berth at this week's US PGA Tour stop.
"It's always great to be back," Johnson said at the TPC Deere Run course in Silvis, Illinois, not far from his Iowa hometown of Cedar Rapids.
"It's like going to a nice restaurant. You just never get a bad bite. That's kind of the way I feel about this place. I've never had a bad experience."
Johnson, who finished second here last year and is on the tournament board of directors, is 17th in the US Ryder Cup standings. Only the top eight points leaders following the US PGA Championship in August get automatic berths.
US captain Corey Pavin will announce four additional selections on September 7 to complete the 12-man squad that will compete against Europe in Wales from October 1-3.
"You're not human if you're not thinking about that, especially if you have the potential to play in it," Johnson said about the possibility of securing a Ryder Cup spot.
"Plus, having Corey as a captain would make it even that much more special for me just because we're friends. And then knowing one of his assistant captains in Davis (Love), that would be pretty special.
"Any time you represent your country, it is awesome. I get revved up for the World Cup. I mean I just love team sports when you have that flag on your shirt. Doesn't matter what sport it is, I think it's pretty awesome."
To shoot up the points standings this week 19th-ranked Johnson will have to contend with defending champion Steve Stricker, the world number four who is highest ranked in the field.
Kenny Perry, winner in 2008, and South African Tim Clark, winner of The Players Championship, are two other pre-tournament favourites.