Talk about grinding it out.
Four former champions of the John Deere Classic — Steve Stricker, John Senden, Zach Johnson and Ryan Moore — battled Friday in an attempt to make the cut. Though two of them will have to wait until the second round is complete to officially find out whether their tournament will continue, all four appeared to do just enough to ensure they play this weekend after a physically taxing day.
"It felt like the gravity of heat just hammering down on you," Johnson said. "I've never really dealt well with that in the past so I'll try to figure it out. I was drinking a lot, had a lot of electrolytes in me, but my body just doesn't cooperate."
Stricker, the three-time champion, had the best day of the four former winners. He made six birdies, including four straight on the back nine to finish the first two rounds at 6-under, 10 strokes back of leader Michael Kim, who had yet to finish.
It appears as if the cut will fall at minus-3 when play finishes this morning.
Senden, the 2006 winner, shot 5-under Friday to finish 4-under for the tournament and likely make the weekend.
Johnson, the 2012 winner and Stricker's playing partner, made things a lot more dicey.
He made the turn at 1-under for the tournament after a double bogey at No. 6, then dropped to even par after a bogey on No. 10.
He rallied with three birdies in his next four holes to move back inside the cut line with 23 players left on the course.
"This course has teeth if you're a little bit off, and today I was a little bit off, yesterday I was a little bit off," Johnson said. "It's not like I gave up or tanked it, I just had a little bit of a lapse there in the middle."
Johnson is joined on the bubble by Ryan Moore, the 2016 champion. Moore carded five birdies and three bogeys to finish 2-under on the day and 3-under for the tournament.
Neither can feel truly safe until the second round is completed, but they're preparing like they'll be back on the course today when the third round is scheduled to start at 9:15 a.m.
"I think, the probability is in my favor of making the cut. I still could miss the cut, technically," Johnson said. "The positive is (if I do make the cut), I'll have a late tee time. Get off to a good start, hopefully there's no weather or the weather is not what they're expecting. ... Hopefully I get off to a good start, keep the pedal down. This is a golf course I know how to go low on."