JT 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 John Deere Classic.
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 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 2nd.
He holed a 70-foot shot from a greenside bunker for birdie at the 4th and after two clutch par putts at the 5th and 6th rolled in one more birdie putt at the 9th.
“The bunker shot on 4 – 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 realise 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.
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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 I’m just going to stick to it and hopefully I 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 7, 8 and 9, with putts of 12, 21 and 19 feet.
“It was fairly stress-free,” he said. “I just need to find a way to do that the next three days.”
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