Stricker in driving seat
Defending champion Steve Stricker took over the lead from Paul Goydos at the John Deere Classic on Friday.
Defending champion Steve Stricker took over the lead from Paul Goydos at the John Deere Classic as their duel continued in Illinois.
Stricker, fully recovered from a shoulder problem which hampered his play for the past two months, followed an opening 11-under-par 60 at TPC Deere Run with a five-under second-round 66.
The round featured seven birdies and two bogeys – one of which was at the last – to take the world number four to 16 under par after 36 holes.
Stricker said: “It’s always tough to follow up a good round with another good round but I thought I did a pretty good job of that today.
“I struggled on a couple holes, put myself in a couple of situations that I was able to get out of, but missing a two-footer on the last hole doesn’t sit with me very well right now.
“All in all it was a good day and I’m in good position and good shape for the weekend.”
Stricker had begun the day a shot behind overnight leader Goydos, who became the fourth player in PGA Tour history to shoot a 59 in the first round.
Despite his history-making score, Goydos began his second round in the late wave of starters from the 10th tee, four shots behind Stricker.
The 46-year-old American, set to be one of Corey Pavin’s Ryder Cup vice-captains at Celtic Manor this October, regained the lead with his fifth birdie of the day at the par-five second hole.
Bogeys at the par-four fifth and eighth holes left him with a 68, one stroke behind the 36-hole leader at 15 under.
Australian trio Matt Jones, James Nitties and Aaron Baddeley had shared third place overnight with American Michael Letzig, five shots behind Goydos.
Jones made the biggest impression of the quartet, jumping out to 13 under before bogeys at his 17th, the par-four eighth, and 18th, the par-four ninth, left him with a 67 and in a tie for third at 11 under with Americans Jeff Maggert and George McNeill – who both shot 65s.
Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge and Baddeley were 10 under following rounds of 65 and 68 respectively.
Nitties posted a second-round 69 to get to nine under, where he was joined by Americans Webb Simpson, who carded a 66, and Boo Weekley, whose 63 featured an eagle at the par-four 14th and six birdies.
Letzig managed a 70 to finish the day in a group at eight under which also included fellow American Charley Hoffman – who failed to improve on his opening 65 with a 69 – and Australian Rod Pampling, who posted a second consecutive 67.
Daniel Chopra’s second round was undone in part by a triple-bogey seven at the sixth hole as the Swede carded a level-par 71 to stay at six under, where he was joined by Zach Johnson, a co-runner-up behind Stricker last year at TPC Deere Run, who shot a two-under 69.
Players champion Tim Clark of South Africa improved by five strokes to five under thanks to his second-round 66 and among the others on five under was Sweden’s Richard S Johnson (68), England’s Brian Davis (69) and Norway’s Henrik Bjornstad (68).
American Kenny Perry and Andres Romero of Argentina both shot 70s to reach four under and make the halfway cut.
Fredrik Jacobson of Sweden had needed a four-under 67 to make the weekend but bogeyed the last for a 68 to miss out by one stroke, a fate which also befell David Duval and Travelers champion Bubba Watson, whose 72s also left them at three under, one shot above the cut line.
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