Merritt professional golfer Roger Sloan enjoyed his best weekend so far in his rookie season on the PGA Tour.

Sloan, 28, finished in a six-way tie for 18th place at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois. The top-20 finish on the world’s number one golf circuit earned Sloan just over $59,000 in prize money.

Playing on the TPC Deer Run course in Silvis, Sloan shot rounds of 70-68-67-67 for a 72-hole total of 12-under-par 272, his best score this season, and just eight strokes back of the winner, Jordan Spieth.

“It was nice to get off the little train we’ve been riding (he had missed the cut in his five previous PGA Tour outings) and get back in the mix,” Sloan said on the phone Monday from Auburn, Alabama, where he is preparing for this weekend’s $3.5 million Barbasol Championship.

“It was a great golf tournament, a fantastic event,” Sloan went on to say. “It was nice to go out in the first round and play well, and then keep the ball rolling.

“There’s such a fine line between everything going in and nothing going in. I’ve been struggling a bit all year with my putting, and this past week, I started making some key putts, some good birdie putts.”

Sloan said the John Deere Classic has a bit of special significance for him.

“After I won in Nova Scotia last season (on the web.Com Tour) and knew that I would be going on the PGA Tour this year, the John Deere Classic was the very next week. As I watched it on TV, it kind of sunk in — I’m going to be at that event next year.”

His first season on the PGA Tour has been all about learning, Sloan said.

“I’m chalking this whole first year up to experience. You learn every week, and try to apply what you learn to the next week. That’s how you improve. Once you start to feel comfortable, that’s when the confidence starts to skyrocket.”

As for the John Deere being his best pay day since joining the PGA Tour, Sloan said, “Money has never been the objective. It’s simply to get better, to improve each and every day and be there on Sunday playing against the world’s best. That’s quite a thrill, and you can’t put a price on it.”

Sloan also shared some insight into last weekend’s winner, Spieth, who is setting the professional golf world on fire this year.

“You couldn’t ask for a nicer guy,” Sloan said. “He handles himself very well. He’s so grounded and very humble — sort of everything you could ask for in an athlete. He’s actually an inspiration for me. He just gets the job done, on and off the golf course.

“I shared a golf cart with him at the Byron Nelson event in Dallas, and it was remarkable. I felt like the little kid, even though he’s seven years younger than me. That’s the kind of presence and stature he has.”

After the Barbasol Championship this weekend, Sloan will make his way to Oakville, Ont. to prepare for the Canadian Open at the storied Glen Abbey Golf Course from July 23 to 26.