Hot putter puts Reavie two clear

Chez Reavie missed his magical 59, but he has grabbed a two shot second-round lead at the John Deer Classic.

American Chez Reavie, wielding a blistering hot putter, flirted with a magical 59 on Friday before bogeying his final hole at the John Deere Classic at TPC Deer Run in Illinois.

The slip cost him a rare feat, to be sure, but his sizzling 9-under-par 62 was good enough to catapult him into the first round lead with a 14-under 128 total.

Displaying dazzling form with his flat stick on another ideal day for golf, the Kansas native carded an eagle and nine birdies as against two dropped shots to lead by two from World No 5 and defending champion Steve Stricker and fellow American Steve Marino.

Stricker, seeking his third straight win in this event, also made the most of the calm weather to post a 64 to Marino’s 66 and should be considered as a considerable threat in this kind of form.

Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas, seeking his second Tour title in his rookie year and who also shot a 64, was a further two strokes back in a 10-under tie with Americans Mark Wilson (67) and Kyle Stanley (67), and Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge (66).

First-day leader Kris Blanks slipped down the leaderboard with a second-round 71 and together with current US Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III was one of the eight players tied on 8-under.

Reavie, who began this season on a medical exemption after having surgery on his right knee last year to repair a torn ACL and meniscus, was especially delighted with his magical touch on the greens.

“The putter’s been great, and that’s been the key,” said the 29-year-old who needed only 21 putts for his 62..

“I saved some poor shots, made good par shots, and made birdies. It’s always fun when you do that.”

“It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster (since his return),” he added.

“I finally kind of figured out how I need to think. At first I was kind of counting my starts and counting how much money, and I was so stressed about thinking about that I wasn’t thinking about golf so much.

“So after about five or six tournaments at the beginning of the year I just said, to hell with this. I’m just going to go play and wherever I finish up, I finish up, and then I started playing better golf.”

Did Reavie, whose lone Tour victory came in the 2008 Canadian Open, ever think about shooting a 59?

“Yes, I did,” he admitted, saying this was just after posting his ninth birdie of the day at the par-three seventh, his 16th hole on the day.

“That’s when I thought, ‘I make two more birdies, I shoot 59’.

“I hit it up there to about 10 feet on the eighth hole, hit a great putt and thought here’s the first, but it lipped out,” he recalled

“It was a hard lip-out and then I kind of took a deep breath and I was like, ‘Okay, now it’s not really in the cards’. But yeah, I thought about it (59) and I was laughing about it and joking about it.

“I hit three great shots and it just didn’t go in. But I couldn’t be upset. I made enough putts… so I can’t really complain about a putt not going in.”

At the other end of the scoreboard, in the meantime, the cut fell at four-under 138 with 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, the 2009 Open winner Stewart Cink and double major winner John Daly among those failing to advance.

Big-hitting Daly had carded a 72 in Thursday’s opening round but on Friday he battled to an ugly 81 which included a stunning 13 at the par-four fourth where his tee shot ended up well right in thick rough.

“I really was hoping they wouldn’t find it so I’d have to go back to the tee,” the American said. “So I hit it a couple of times and then took an unplayable, couldn’t get it out, hit it again, took an unplayable, couldn’t get it out.

“Then I got it far enough left that I could drop and then get in the bunker and two-putted for a 13. I just hit a horrible swing on four, just a heel shank. I deserved it.”

Top 10 leaderboard after Round 2

128 Chez Reavie 66 62

130 Steve Stricker 66 64, Steve Marino 64 66

132 Brendon De Jonge 66 66, Kyle Stanley 65 67, Jhonattan Vegas (Ve) 68 64, Mark Wilson 65 67

133 Chris Stroud 69 64, Kirk Triplett 68 65, Billy Mayfair 67 66, John Mallinger 68 65, Cameron Percy (Aus) 66 67, Nathan Green (Aus) 69 64, Arjun Atwal (Ind) 67 66, Matt Mcquillan (Can) 64 69, David Mathis 68 65