BY RICK BROWN
Jhonattan Vegas couldn’t remember the last time he shot 62.
“Probably a while,” he said.
It was back in 2016, when he shot 60 in the second round of the Barbasol Championship.
The 62 that Vegas shot in the second round of the John Deere Classic Friday vaulted him to the top of the leaderboard at 13-under-par 129. Vegas takes a one-shot lead over Andrew Landry into Saturday’s third round. Lucas Glover, who had the second double-eagle in Deere history Friday, is alone in third at 131 after a 64.
Vegas also added a chapter to an amazing streak of golf on the PGA Tour.
This is the sixth consecutive round in which a player has shot 62 in a tour event. The run started at last week’s 3M Open in the Twin Cities. Scott Piercy shot 62 in the first round. Matching that score were Bryson DeChambeau in the second round, Matthew Wolff in the third round and Lucas Glover in the final round. Roberto Diaz made it five straight 62s in Thursday’s first round at the Deere. Vegas followed suit with his nine-birdie morning at TPC Deere Run. Diaz, who led after round one, shot 2-over 73.
“This is one of those rounds that you want to keep fresh in your mind, especially coming into the weekend,” Vegas said.
Vegas, who has won three times of the PGA Tour, most recently at the 2017 RBC Canadian Open, heads into the third round with Landry on his heels. Landry shot a second straight 65, and has made just one bogey over the first 36 holes.
“I played really good golf today,” said Landry, a winner at the 2018 Valero Texas Open. “I had a couple of loose tee shots. Other than that it was a clean day. My short game was good. My putting was good. Everything was real solid.”
Landry said his 65s were similar.
“Pretty carbon copy,” Landry said. “I felt like yesterday I was actually flawless when it came to ballstriking.”
Russell Henley, Harold Varner III, Daniel Berger, Cameron Tringale and Adam Schenk were deadlocked in fourth at 10 under.
Glover holed a 3-iron from 255 yards on the par-5 10th hole for a two.
“Honestly, I was trying to hit it short left and then chip it on the green, and I pushed it five to eight yards,” Glover said. “It bounced, rolled and went in.”
The only other double eagle in Deere history was by Frank Licklliter, who holed a 3-wood from 257 yards for a deuce on the par-5 2nd hole in 2000. A plaque rests where Lickliter hit his shot 19 years ago. Glover was asked if he expected a plaque in his honor on No. 10.
“No,” Glover said. “Frank’s was probably where he was aiming.”
Glover and playing partners Joaquin Niemann and Seamus Power had a best-shot score of 12-under 24 on the back nine. Power eagled the 14th hole. Niemann had a pair eagles at the 13th and 17th holes.
“Our scorers had a nice time, I would say,” Glover said. “They were entertained.”
Henley double-bogeyed the 18th hole to shoot a second-round 68.
“A couple of mistakes there on 18,” said Henley, who recorded the last of his three PGA Tour victories at the 2017 Shell Houston Open. “But I feel confident in my game. I’m just trying to hang in there. There’s a long way to go.”
Varner tied for sixth in the Deere last year and is 28 under par over his last six rounds at TPC Deere Run.
Asked what it was about that course that suited Varner’s game, he said, “I seriously have no clue. I wish I could tell you. I came here to play well and I enjoy being here.”
Vegas has three Top 10 finishes this year, including a tie for third at The Players Championship. He is making his fifth career appearance at the John Deere Classic, and first since 2015. His best finish was a tie for third in 2014 when he shot 63-65 on the weekend.
“It’s usually soft, and it’s been a little bit firmer because of the conditions,” Vegas said. “It’s the best I’ve seen it. The greens are perfect. The fairways are rolling more. It’s actually a little bit tricky because a lot of the fairways, as undulated as they are, you have to be a little careful with some of those runouts. I can’t wait for the weekend to get it a little firmer, and play a little more challenging.”
Vegas hit plenty of quality shots on Friday. He hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation and made 117 feet seven inches of putts.
“I felt absolutely in control today,” Vegas said.