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Zach holds triumph Deere to his heart

AMERICAN Zach Johnson birdied the second hole of a sudden death play-off to beat compatriot Troy Matteson and capture the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois yesterday.

It was the 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 this week's Open.

"It just feels awesome, I can't really put it into words," Johnson, who is on the board of the directors for the John Deere tournament, said. "This tournament has meant so much to me and my family over the years. I don't know if you can rank any of them (titles). They're all so ultimately special.

"Augusta is Augusta, you really can't push anything past that but I am really going to enjoy this one because this is supremely special."

The play-off began looking as if it was a tournament neither man wanted to win with Johnson's drive on the first play-off 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 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 an 18-under 266.

"I'm kind of shocked I got into a play-off because I just didn't play my best today but kind of hung in there," said Matteson. "All in all, you go into a play-off and lose to a shot like that, I mean, that's an unbelievable shot.

"My hat's off to Zach. He drove it in the bunker twice and figured out a way to win."