As it turns out, Tiger Woods isn’t the only major champion hoping to make a move up the world rankings in time to qualify for the PGA Tour’s swan song at Firestone Country Club.
Zach Johnson has played the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational every year since joining the Tour in 2004, compiling five top-10 finishes including a runner-up result last year behind Hideki Matsuyama. But the veteran is not yet exempt for next month’s event in Akron, which will be the last installment before the WGC scene shifts to Memphis in 2019.
Johnson enters this week’s John Deere Classic at No. 51 in the world rankings, needing to move into the top 50 by either the July 23 or July 30 cutoff to qualify for the Aug. 2-5 event in Ohio.
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“I want to play Akron really bad,” Johnson told reporters. “I love everything about that tournament. It’s Midwest golf. It’s kind of what I grew up playing. I’m right there on the cusp of that, with the numbers.”
There’s a good chance Johnson could get a desired boost in the world rankings this week at TPC Deere Run, where he has been a constant fixture on the leaderboard for more than a decade. He has finished T-3 or better six times in the last nine years, highlighted by his 2012 victory, and he tied for fifth last year.
Johnson will also be able to boost his ranking next week at The Open, three years removed from his playoff victory at St. Andrews. But he’s hopeful that another strong performance in the Quad Cities will allow him to start booking travel to Akron in a few weeks.
“I haven’t missed one of those since I’ve been on Tour,” Johnson said. “So yes, take care of business and see how everything falls.”