SILVIS, Ill. – Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz ventured onto a golf course for the first time in a dozen years Thursday.
“It it wasn’t for that guy, I probably wouldn’t be here,” Ferentz said, nodding toward Zach Johnson as he prepared to play his second shot at TPC Deere Run’s fourth hole.
Johnson, an Iowa native, Drake grad and devoted Iowa fan, shot 68 in the first round of the John Deere Classic. Former Iowa football player Lon Olejniczak, who lives in Cedar Rapids, picked Ferentz up at his home at 6 a.m. They were on hand when Johnson teed off at 7:30 a.m.
“He’s wanted to see Zach play for a long time,” Olejniczak said.
Ferentz said Thursday was the first time he had attended a PGA Tour event in person. The last time he had been on a golf course was to play in an event for his high school football coach, Joe Moore, at Champions Lakes in Ligonier, Pa.
Johnson said he appreciated Feren
“It’s awesome,” Johnson said. “He’s been a big fan. He writes me letters every now and then. I was born in Iowa City, so it’s in my blood. To have a quality guy like that coaching a team that the state (of Iowa) rallies behind, it’s not hard to be a fan of the team, of him and how he goes about his business. So for him to come out here and watch my business is pretty special.
“I wish I could have made a few more birdies. But it’s golf, not football. He was probably ready to hit me with shoulder pads out there.”
Ferentz said the John Deere usually conflicts with a family trip to Pennsylvania, but the dates worked this time.
Ferentz, who wore a hat and sunglasses and managed to get around the course in relative incognito, greeted Johnson with a handshake after he had signed his scorecard and done post-round interviews.
“I thoroughly enjoyed it,” Ferentz told Johnson, who responded, “I’m glad you did.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football