This has been a great weekend for golf nuts. There’s the Women’s British Open, the U.S. Senior Open, The European Tour’s Scottish Open (in preparation for the British Open) and the John Deere Classic. Of the four, the Deere seems to have wound up with the star power and fire power all combined at the top.
Because of earlier rains, they were playing lift, clean and place and you just can’t give the best players in the world that kind of advantage. Scott Brown shot 10-under 61, clean as a whistle. His would be the standout round, but there were a bunch of row rounds and the leaderboard appears primed for any little spark to ignite a raging fire.
Brian Harman has a one-shot lead at 17-under after shooting 65 Saturday. He’ll be paired with everybody’s favorite part-time player, Steve Stricker, who shot a tidy 7-under 64 with two closing birdies.
Brown is in 3rd by himself at 15-under and had a pretty unusual explanation for how his 61 came about:
“Well, I’ve got a funny story. So Daniel [Summerhays] hit it in the right rough on 5, I think, and he caught a jumper, and hit off the ShotLink tower and went in the hole for eagle. So that kind of got us going, we were all just going well, we can’t be beat today.”
Tim Clark was the first of the four, 14-unders to post, so he’ll be paired with Brown. He shot 7-under to get there.
They’ll be followed by Jerry Kelly who had a swing-thought epiphany in his hotel room that lead to a 6-under, 65 and William McGirt who took a 2-under breather from his 64, 66 start. Better in the third round than the fourth and he’s proved to himself that he can go low too.
Zach Johnson (69) is the last of the 14-unders and he’ll paired with the first of the three, 13-unders in the clubhouse, Jhonattan Vegas, who was in Saturday’s ricochet pairing with Brown and Summerhays. He shot 8-under with a bogey.
That puts Ryan Moore (67) and Johnson Wagner (69) together.
12-under: Canadian, Brad Fritsch (63), Charles Howell III (67) and Aussie winner in San Antonio, Steven Bowditch (70).
11-under: Daniel Summerhays (65), David Toms (67), defending champion, Jordan Spieth (67) and Chad Campbell (62).
That 6-shot gap is probably at the outer limit of the players who still have a chance to win this thing on Sunday. But with all the low numbers that got dumped into the cauldron on Saturday, no one will be surprised if more show up. It all depends on how the Tour sets up the course. The weather shouldn’t be a factor, although early morning fog through the 8 o’clock hour could push back tee times which begin at 7:05.
With the other three tournaments going on in different time zones, it’s going to be a glorious day for watching great golf. The irrepressible Inbee Park has a one-shot lead in the Women’s Open, Justin Rose is tied with Marc Warren in Scotland and Gene Sauers has a three-shot lead over Bernhard Langer and Scott Dunlap and another over Colin Montgomerie in the Senior Open.