J.T. Poston, chasing a wire-to-wire victory, fired a four-under par 67 to hold a three-stroke lead after Saturday’s third round of the US PGA John Deere Classic.
The 29-year-old American, who matched his career low with a 62 on Thursday, rolled in an eagle putt from just inside 14 feet at the par-5 17th and closed with a par to finish 54 holes on 19-under 194 at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois.
“It was a little tougher out there,” Poston said. “I didn’t hit it as well off the tees. I had to earn it a bit more out there. I pulled out a 67. So I’m pretty happy with it.”
American Scott Stallings, seeking his first PGA title in eight years, shot 64 to share second on 197 alongside countryman Denny McCarthy and Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo, who birdied four of the last five holes to shoot 65 as he chases his first PGA victory since 2015.
“I’ve been looking for that win for six-plus years now. I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” Grillo said. “I changed putters this week. So far it’s working great. I’m seeing the lines a little better.”
England’s Callum Tarren was fifth on 198 after a 65 with American Bo Hoag firing a 63, matching his low PGA round, to share sixth on 199 with countryman Chris Naegel.
Poston, who led by four when the day began, took his only PGA victory at the 2019 Wyndham Championship.
World number 99 Poston has three top-10 efforts this season, the best of them a runner-up result at last week’s Travelers Championship.
“I’m just trying to play good golf,” Poston said. “When you have a lead like that, the goal is to make it so guys can’t catch you and I’m going to try and do that.”
Poston blasted out of a greenside bunker at the par-5 second hole to just inside four feet of the cup and sank the birdie putt, then dropped his approach to four feet at the fifth to set up another birdie.
Poston curled in a six-foot birdie putt at the eighth and made the turn on 18-under with a four-stroke edge.
After taking only his second bogey of the week, a poor 6-iron off the tee at the par-3 12th leading to a seven-foot par putt miss, Poston answered with an uphill eight-foot birdie putt at the 14th.
But Poston’s tee shot at the 15th hooked way right into deep rough and he missed another seven footer to make bogey, setting the stage for his eagle on the penultimate hole.
“It was just one of those where I had a good eye for it,” Poston said of his eagle putt.
– ‘Time to take it deep’ –
Tarren, a 31-year-old PGA rookie ranked 393rd in the world, birdied four of the first six holes in a bogey-free round to make his charge.
“I knew I got to get off to a hot start, and I did,” Taren said. “I’m in a good position for tomorrow. It’s time to take it deep.”
Stallings, 37, seeks his fourth PGA title but first since 2014 at Torrey Pines. He birdied three of the first five holes, tapped in for another to open the back nine and then reeled off three in a row from 15-17 before closing with a 10-foot par putt.