McQuillan Ties For 3rd at John Deere Classic

Matt McQuillan tied for 3rd at the 2011 John Deere Classic (File Photo: Scott MacLeod)

While Steve Stricker was wrapping a third John Deere Classic in a row, one Canadian golfer was having a victory of sorts himself.

In 1999 a young Matt McQuillan adorned the cover of Flagstick Golf Magazine under the title “The Real Deal”; his play on Sunday further strengthened our belief in that statement.  The 30 year-old closed out the John Deere Classic with an impressive score of 64, with a card free of blemishes, and pushing him into a tie for third place with former Masters Champion Zach Johnson at 17 under par.

The final round featured five birdies and an eagle with the latter coming on the 17th hole.

“I got off to a great start and rolled from there,” a tired McQuillan told Flagstick late on Sunday night after finally making his way back to his hotel room.  “I was thinking four or five under would be a good day and when I got off to a fast start I knew that would be possible if I could just keep things going.”

After his strong front nine of just 31 strokes McQuillan admitted he started to get a little nervous with nine holes to play.  “It showed a bit on the the 10th.  I was pin high about 30 feet away in 2 (on the par five) but hit my chip to about 15 feet and made par.  Then I popped up my three wood off the 11th tee.  I settled down a bit but was pretty much nervous for the whole back nine. My short game kept me in there and I think I went through nine bottles of water.”

As for the eagle of the 17th hole the pro says he was kind of surprised by it.  “It was very unexpected.  I had just saw Janzen putt off the green and I think my ball was actually picking up speed when it hit the hole.  Thankfully it went in.”

On the heels of the bonus eagle McQuillan had a tough time off the 18th tee.  “I kind of came out of the tee shot and ended up where all I could do was pitch out.  I had a good number from there and was pretty happy to make the putt for a par.”  Apparently the fans in Silvis, Illinois liked it as well as McQuillan says the strains of “Oh, Canada” greeted him as he left the final green.

Asked to pinpoint what the difference was for him this week, considering his track record on the PGA Tour of late where he had missed 10 straight cuts, McQuillan told Flagstick that it came down to a change in his approach.  “Until now I had the attitude of grinding every week during the tournament, this week I did my work beforehand and just went out and played golf.  The course set-up well for me and I had a lot of wedges into holes; something I had been working on.  I also had a lot of good numbers (distances for his approaches) so I could make good, confident swings.”

McQuillan says he will look to build on the the momentum of this tournament that earned him $261,000 and jumped him up to 153rd on the tour’s money list.  Prior to the tournament he had made just one cut in his 2011 Rookie season and earned just over $12,000.  “Yah, I was kind of surprised when I heard how much I won.  I was thinking about $175,000 and when I heard 261 (thousand) I almost fell to my knees,” he said.  “It’s a good start for this stretch of tournaments that I’ll be playing in.  I’m looking forward to them.”

That stretch will include the Viking Classic in Madison, Mississippi where he will fly down to at 10 a.m. on Monday with the RBC Canadian Open to follow the next week.

The significance of being in the Canadian Open for the first time is not lost on the rookie PGA Tour member.  “Yeah, I could say I’ll try to treat it like another event but it’s hard to do that when it’s your national championship.  I know there will be friends and family there too but I am just going to try and do my best to keep my focus and play well.”

Note: McQuillan had a new set of irons in play this week, a prototype set of Titleist 712 CB irons, 4-9 iron.  “They perform just like my previous set but I really like the new satin finish.  They look really sharp with no glare.”

And Another Tidbit – McQuillan will have a guest caddy back on the bag for the Viking Classic.  For the week he will re-unite with Gary Matthews who caddied for him at the December PGA Tour Qualifying School.  Matthews is the regular caddy for Sergio Garcia.



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