AFP/ Los Angeles
J T Poston matched his career low round with a nine-under par 62 on Thursday to take a two-shot lead in the first round of the US PGA Tour John Deere Classic in Illinois.
Poston, chasing a second PGA Tour title after his 2019 Wyndham Championship win, rattled in a 26-foot eagle putt and capped his round with another Golf: John Deere Classic scores 26-footer for a birdie, setting an early target that withstood all afternoon challengers.
“Any time you can have those rounds where you really get it going low and mistake-free, bogey-free is a bonus,” said Poston, who also carded a 62 en route to a runner-up finish to Xander Schauffele last week.
“It’s why you work at it and why you practice the way we do.”
Poston teed off on 10 and after back-to-back birdies at 13 and 14 he strung together three straight birdies from the 17th through first before capping the burst with his eagle at the second.
He holed a 70-foot shot from a greenside bunker for birdie at the fourth and after two clutch par putts at the fifth and sixth rolled in one more birdie putt at the ninth.
“The bunker shot on four - I looked at (caddie Aaron) Flener like, did that really happen?” Poston said.
“I think it was the first green that I missed, and to hole it out and make birdie, you’re not really thinking you’re going to make it, but when you do, you just realize it could be one of those days.”
Poston, who has three top-10 finishes this season, was two strokes in front of Canadian Michael Gligic, who had seven birdies in his seven-under par 64.
Vaughn Taylor and Christopher Gotterup shared third on 65, both carding eight birdies and two bogeys in their six-under rounds.
Ricky Barnes, Denny McCarthy, Monday qualifier Chris Naegel and South African Dylan Frittelli were tied on 66.
Poston said he knew he’d have to keep going low to be in the hunt on Sunday in a tournament in which the highest winning score since 2009 was 18-under.
“I think tomorrow, regardless of where I stand starting the day, I am going to try and go out there and shoot another number like that or shoot another solid five-, six-under,” he said. “Just stay aggressive and not just kind of coast.”
Gligic said he’d also try to keep the pedal down.
“We all have our game plans, and just going to stick to it and hopefully can keep hitting good shots and giving myself some looks and make some putts,” he said.
Gligic was unbothered by windier afternoon conditions, finding 16 of 18 greens in regulation and rolling in a number of long range putts.
His seven birdies included three in a row at seven, eight and nine, with putts of 12, 21 and 19 feet.
“It was fairly stress free,” he said.
“Just need to find a way to do that the next three days.”
Leading first-round scores on Thursday in the US PGA Tour John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois (USA unless noted, par-71)
62 - J T Poston
64 - Michael Gligic (CAN)
65 - Vaughn Taylor, Christopher Gotterup
66 - Ricky Barnes, Denny McCarthy, Chris Naegel, Dylan Frittelli (RSA)
67 - Taylor Moore, Chesson Hadley, Scott Stallings, Mark Hubbard, Adam Svensson (CAN), Curtis Thompson, Matthias Schwab (AUT), Martin Trainer, Doc Redman, Bo Hoag
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