Stricker takes John Deere lead

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Steve Stricker has won the last two years in a row at the John Deere Classic – and now a three-peat is on the cards.

Steve Stricker has won the last two years in a row at the John Deere Classic – and now a three-peat is on the cards.

The PGA Tour veteran shot a fantastic eight-under-par 63 at TPC Deere Run in Illinois on Saturday to lead by two shots over nearest rival Brendon de Jonge.

The Zimbabwean also managed a thnird-round 63, as he finished on 18 under 195, two behind Stricker’s 20 under par total.

Overnight leader Chez Reavie is three shots back after a 68, while another American, Kyle Stanley, is alone in fourth a further shot back thanks to a 65.

Stricker, already a winner of his 10th PGA Tour title at the Memorial last month, has now gone 39 holes in a row without a bogey, and he has a 15-foot par putt on the last hole to thank for keeping the streak, and his two stroke advantage, intact.

He twice found bunkers on 18 before sinking the putt, and he recognised the value of not making bogey there.

“I thought that was pretty important, to finish it off with a par,” said Stricker.

“I didn’t get a great lie in the bunker but I made a nice putt.”

The 44-year-old would become only the 21st player to complete three wins in a row at a PGA Tour event – and the first since Tiger Woods at the 2007 Bridgestone Invitational, if he triumphs on Sunday.

“I don’t know what it is about this place. I feel very comfortable here,” he said.

“I feel relaxed out there. It has been a great ride the last couple years and I’m having a lot of fun out there.”

Stricker got his round off to a superb start with two straight birdies, before adding another at the fourth and then two more at seven and eight.

His back nine started well with another birdie at 10, and more birdies followed at the par-4 14th and the par-5 17th.

De Jonge is still chasing his first PGA Tour win, with his best finish on tour being third, which he achieved on three seperate occasions last season.

Aside from still being in the hunt for victory, a top-five finish this week could see him book a spot into next week’s Open field.

“I think tomorrow’s going to be more of the same,” said de Jonge.

“You’re going to have to make a bunch of birdies. The golf course is in such good condition, the ball’s going so far, that you get a lot of wedges in your hands.”

Despite Stricker’s unbelievable form at this event, de Jonge was positive about his chances.

“I think anybody’s got a chance that’s within a couple,” de Jonge said. “Obviously you’re going to have to play a good round of golf. But yeah, I think everybody feels like they’ve got a chance.”

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