Stiles leads, Day in hunt at John Deere
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2009 John Deere Classic | Round Two | 12 Jul 2009
Darron Stiles has the halfway lead at the weather delayed John Deere Classic, a second round 65 adding to his opening 64 and at 13 under he leads by three over Steve Stricker, who powered into contention with a second round of 61.
Tim Petrovic and Jerry Kelly are at 9 under and in third position and four from the lead while a large group at 8 under includes the leading Australian Jason Day.
The second round of the tournament was delayed 24 hours after a storm had lashed the golf course on Friday morning but when the players returned on Saturday the scoring conditions were perfect. The low scoring in round two was certainly helped by the lift, clean and place rule in place.
Stiles has missed nine of his eleven cuts to date on the 2009 PGA Tour after a very successful season on the Nationwide Tour in 2008, but has produced an amazing turnaround in form this week. Although he still has 36 holes to play in tomorrow’s congested final round, he has created a great opportunity to win his first PGA Tour event. His previous best PGA Tour finish in 106 starts at this level has been 9th but he does have four Nationwide Tour victories to his name.
An outward nine of 7 under 29 had Stricker on track for something very spectacular, especially when he moved to 9 under for the day with birdies at his 10th and 11th holes. A bogey at the par 3, 3rd (his 12th) cost some momentum and the chance of a sub 60 round but at 10 under he is well placed to chase down his less experienced playing partner tomorrow.
“It was kind of one of those rounds where everything went right,” said Stricker. “You need to do that, I guess, to shoot 61. But I got off to a good start and made some good putts early on at 10 and 11. That kind of set the tone for me, because I have been working on my putting. I came out after yesterday’s rain and knowing that we weren’t going to play I worked on my putting and when I made those first couple putts at 10 and 11 set, it kind of set the tone for me. Made me feel like that was the right thing I was working on yesterday.”
“I worked on my ball position. It’s been creeping forward on me a little bit, and I just moved it back a little bit. I moved it back and I practiced yesterday. The ball seemed to come off a lot more with a lot more spin. You know, it was rolling better. I was hitting it more solid. I holed a shot from the fairway at 17 for eagle but it was just one of those days where it seemed like everything went right.”
Like several others in this field Stricker heads to the Open Championship on a special flight immediately after the event and while 36 holes tomorrow is not the ideal preparation for Turnberry, a win would help ease the exhaustion. Kenny Perry, the pre-tournament favourite, is in a similar situation and he moved to the edge of contention with his second consecutive 68 to be at 6 under.
Jason Day leads the Australians at 8 under and is within striking distance. Day made a fast start to his second round with two early birdies but began to labour before two late birdies moved him into a very promising position. Day is all but assured of retaining his PGA Tour status for 2010 but a good week here will put that beyond doubt and create much higher goals for the remainder of 2009.
Peter Lonard and Matt Jones are at 6 under and not too far from contention especially with 36 holes to play tomorrow. Aaron Baddeley at 5 under and Marc Leishman and Steve Elkington at 4 under were the other Australians to make the cut which was reduced to the top 60 and ties to accommodate the demands of 36 holes on Sunday.