Danny Lee 30th in Illinois; Johnson wins playoff

Last updated 11:45 16/07/2012

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Golf

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New Zealand golfer Danny Lee has secured his third best finish on the PGA Tour this season after bolting up the leaderboard courtesy of a final round 66 at the John Deere Classic today.

The Kiwi No 1 climbed 30 spots to finish with a share of 30th place at TPC Deere Run in Illinois on the back of a five-under par round that featured seven birdies and two bogeys.

He finished at 10-under par for the week, his lowest total to par from 18 events this season.

The 21-year-old, whose best finish this year has been a tie for 19th at the Byron Nelson Championship in May, was 10 shots behind the winner, American Zach Johnson, who beat compatriot Troy Matteson with a birdie on the second playoff hole.

It was Johnson's second PGA Tour title of the year for the 2007 Masters champion, who celebrated his ninth career win with hugs from his children on the 18th green before heading off to board a charter plane put on by the tournament sponsor to fly him to Britain for next week's British Open.

The playoff began looking as if it was a tournament neither man wanted to win with Johnson's drive on the first playoff hole finding the fairway bunker. Matteson could do no better landing deep in the trees.

Attempting to punch out, Matteson watched his second shot skid across the fairway into the water where he was soon joined by Johnson both eventually carding messy double-bogeys.

Back on the 18th tee, Johnson found the same fairway bunker but this time produced a brilliant second shot that rolled within two feet of the pin leaving him a routine putt for birdie and the win.

Matteson with a two-under 69 and Johnson with a bogey-free 65 finished regulation at 20-under par 264 after a rollercoaster final round.

American Scott Piercy also returned an error free 65 to finish alone in third with 18-under 266.

Three-time defending champion Steve Stricker had been well positioned to make a late charge for a fourth consecutive crown but watched his chances disappear with back-to-back bogeys at 14 and 15 to fall four shots off the pace with three to play.

Young Tom Morris, Walter Hagan, Gene Sarazen and Tiger Woods are the only male players who have won a tournament in four consecutive years.

Meanwhile, Kiwi golfer Tim Wilkinson has finished tied for 29th at the Utah Championship on the United States second-tier tour.

The left-hander closed with an even-par 71 to finish at eight-under par for the championship, seven shots behind the winner, American Doug LaBelle II.

Fellow web.com tour player Steve Alker is preparing for the British Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes, which starts on Thursday night (NZT).

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- Stuff and Reuters

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