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2014 John Deere Classic (The 35th of 41 events in the PGA TOUR Season), Silvis, IL , July 7-13, 2014; Purse: $4,700,000 ($846,000) ; TPC Deere Run , Par/Yards: 35-36—71/7,268; FedExCup: 500 (winner) - Third-Round Notes – Saturday, July 12, 2014

Weather: Mostly cloudy, with a high of 83 degrees. Winds SW 7-15 mph.

Due to a ½ inch of overnight rain, preferred lies in closely-mown areas was in effect for the third round.

Third-Round Leaderboard

Brian Harman  63-68-65—196 (-17) (pictured by Getty Images)
Steve Stricker  68-65-64—197 (-16)
Scott Brown 67-70-61—198 (-15)

Brian Harman

Brian Harman sank a 47’ putt for eagle at the par-5 17th hole to help give him a one-stroke lead, his first-ever overnight lead on the PGA TOUR. Harman also eagled the par-5 second hole in round three, becoming the 32nd player to post two eagles in a single round this year.

Harman’s accuracy in round three was nearly flawless. He hit all 18 greens in regulation, and missed only two fairways.

After three rounds in 2012, Brian Harman held a share of third place at the John Deere Classic, before a final round, 2-over 73 resulted in a T19. In 2012, Harman was paired with eventual champion Zach Johnson in the second to last group of the day. Troy Matteson and Steve Stricker played in the final group that year.

Harman is making just his third start at this week’s John Deere Classic. In addition to his T19 finish in 2012, he missed last year’s cut after rounds of 70-75.

Should Harman hang on for the win, he would join Bubba Watson (Northern trust Open, The Masters), Chris Kirk (The McGladrey Classic), Harris English (OHL Classic at Mayakoba), Russell Henley (The Honda Classic) and Brendon Todd (HP Byron Nelson Championship) as former University of Georgia Bulldogs to win this year on the PGA TOUR.

Harman is making his 25th start of the season this week. He came into this week on the heels of back-to-back missed cuts at the Quicken Loans National and last week’s Greenbrier Classic.

Harman is in search of his first career PGA TOUR win in his 88th start. His best finishes are a pair of T3s, first at last year’s Wyndham Championship. He matched that finish earlier this season at the Northern Trust Open. Other top-10 finishes this season were T7/Frys.com Open, T10/The McGladrey Classic, T7/RBC Heritage and T6/FedEx St. Jude Classic.

The John Deere Classic has produced 19 first-time PGA TOUR winners over the years – six of those have come at TPC Deere Run (Michael Clark/2000, David Gossett/2001, Mark Hensby/2004, Sean O’Hair/2005, John Senden/2006 and Jordan Spieth/2013).

Harman is among those looking to earn the last spot into next week’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. The highest finisher among the top-5, not otherwise exempt, will claim next week’s last invite.

Third-Round Lead Notes

Since moving to the TPC Deere Run in 2000, the third-round leader has held on for the win six times, most recently being Steve Stricker in 2010.

Last year, Jordan Spieth began the final round trailing by six strokes at 13 under.

The third-round leader has emerged victorious 16 of 33 times on the PGA TOUR this season. The last to do so was Martin Kaymer at the U.S. Open, who won in wire-to-wire fashion.

Steve Stricker

Three-time champion Steve Stricker posted 7-under 64 in round three, highlighted by a 27’ 5” putt for birdie at the last to get to 16-under and within one of Brian Harman. In 2009, Stricker also trailed by a stroke headed into the final round, but led by six and two after 54 holes in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Stricker’s 64 in round three marks his 22nd consecutive sub-par round at TPC Deere Run. In that stretch, he is 116-under-par.

Stricker is making his 13th career start at the John Deere Classic. He was victorious in 2009, 2010 and 2011, finished T5 in 2012 and T10 last year. He has now made nine consecutive cuts in this event.

Stricker is in search of his 13th career win on the PGA TOUR and first since the 2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Currently on the FedExCup points bubble at No. 125, a win this week would move him inside the top 40 on the points list, positioning him well for the Playoffs.

Stricker will not compete in next week’s Open Championship.

Scott Brown

With birdies on nine of his first 15 holes in round three, Scott Brown finished with a career-low, 10-under 61. The bogey-free score bettered his previous best by two strokes. Brown sank a 8’ 9” on his last hole to save par and post the 10-under score.

Brown hit 12/14 fairways in regulation in round three (85.7 percent), 16/18 greens (88.9 percent) and needed 26 putts.

The grouping of Brown, Jhonattan Vegas and Daniel Summerhays was a collective 24-under par in round three.

Brown, an Augusta, Ga. native is looking for his second career PGA TOUR victory. With a win this week, Brown would earn an invite to his first Masters Tournament in 2015. He did not gain entry into the Augusta field after last year’s Puerto Rico Open win, as it was played opposite the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.

Brown is making his third consecutive start in this week’s John Deere Classic. Prior to last year’s T22 finish, he claimed seventh-place honors in 2012. In 11 competitive rounds now at TPC Deere Run, Brow has yet to post a score higher than even-par 71.

Brown is making his 25th start of the season this week, bringing with him three top-10 finishes. Two of those came in his first four starts of the season (T3/Frys.com Open, T4/The McGladrey Classic). Most recently, he finished T5 at the RBC Heritage.

Like Brian Harman, Brown is angling for the final spot into next week’s Open Championship field at Royal Liverpool.

Tim Clark

Making his fifth start at the John Deere Classic, Tim Clark made seven birdies and no bogeys en route to a 64. The score matches his low round at TPC Deere Run from round three of 2008 (T18).

Clark hit a perfect 14/14 fairways and 18/18 greens in round three.

In Clark’s first start at the John Deere Classic in 2007, he finished second after rounds of 68-65-66-68—267. In 2010, Clark finished T7. His other finishes: T18/2008, T36/2012.

Clark’s two over-par scores (of 19) at TPC Deere Run, a 73 in 2008 and 72 in 2012, both came in the final round.

Clark is making his 20th start of the season this week, and 293rd of his career. His lone win came at the 2010 PLAYERS Championship.

Clark’s lone top-10 finish of the season is a T2 at The McGladrey Classic. He began this week’s John Deere Classic on the heels of two straight missed cuts at the Travelers Championship and Greenbrier Classic.

William McGirt

Second-round co-leader William McGirt posted a 2-under 69 in round three and will begin Sunday’s final round three strokes back.

McGirt came into the week ranked 22nd in the Strokes Gained – Putting category (.379). Following just 24 putts in rounds one and two, he led the field in that category this week through 36 holes at 5.975. In round three, McGirt needed 29 putts and is ranked fifth.

McGirt remains in search of his first career win on the PGA TOUR this week in his 112th start. His two best finishes, T2s, came at the 2012 and 2013 RBC Canadian Open.

Miscellaneous Notes

With today’s 2-under 69, Zach Johnson (T4) has now posted 23 consecutive rounds in the 60s at TPC Deere Run (totaling 98-under). Not since the final round of 2008 (even-par 71) has Johnson posted a score in the 70s. At 14-under, Johnson will begin the final round three strokes back.

Defending John Deere Classic champion Jordan Spieth posted a 4-under 67 in round three, and will begin Sunday’s final round six strokes back, exactly as he did last year en route to his playoff victory.

Jhonattan Vegas began the week with three events left to earn $281,297 and retain his Major Major Extension for the remainder of the year. He made good strides toward fulfilling that in round three with a career-low-tying, 8-under 63. Vegas needs to finish solo-third or better this week to clear the required money.

Brad Fritsch, whose golf clubs were lost on the flight to Moline until Wednesday, overcame the associated stress by posting a career-low, 8-under 63 in round three. At 12-under, Fritsch will begin Sunday’s final round five strokes back.

Bogey-free rounds: 

R1: Zach Johnson (63), Rory Sabbatini (63), Todd Hamilton (64), William McGirt (64), Kevin Tway (65), Ryan Moore (66), Jerry Kelly (66), Bud Cauley (67), Chad Campbell (69), Joe Ogilvie (69).

R2: Tim Clark (63), Jonathan Byrd (66), Kevin Na (66), Bud Cauley (67), Brian Davis (68), John Senden (69).

R3: Scott Brown (61), Chad Campbell (62), Brad Fritsch (63), Tim Clark (64), Jerry Kelly (65), David Toms (67), Jordan Niebrugge (66), Paul Goydos (66), Retief Goosen (69),

The easiest hole in round three was the par-5 17th, playing to an average of 4.065. The most difficult hole was the par-4 18th, with an average of 4.234.

Scoring Averages at the par-71 TPC Deere Run:

       Front 9  Back 9   Total      Cumulative

R1:  34.839   35.619    70.458

R2:  34.503   35.654    70.163    70.311

R3:  33.662    34.558    68.221    69.266

Source: PGA TOUR

Author

Graham J Gordon, The Editor and Owner, GolfblogspotUK

The GolfblogspotUK website is owned and run by former Walker Cup player and European Tour card holder, Graham J Gordon, from Scotland, the Home of Golf. The owner is a golf fanatic who had to retire early from competitive tour play due to a back injury that required surgery. Graham wishes to share his knowledge and own experiences of the game with the GolfblogspotUK community and to receive your feedback on all aspects of the sport. Graham has been playing the game for over 20 years and received a great deal of pleasure from the sport. He has met several friends and visited many different places around the world, thanks to playing the great game of golf. Time to put a little back into the game to help others.

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