Writing from Silvis, Illinois
Friday, August 12, 2016
Here is the secret to playing well on a day when you’re not sure when you’ll play.
Get up before the rooster and be at TPC Deere Run at 5 a.m.
Eat breakfast and practice until the 7 a.m. start is postponed.
Go back to the hotel, take a nap.
Eat breakfast again.
Finally get on the tee, shoot 6-under-par 65 and jump into contention in the 46th John Deere Classic.
That worked for Steve Marino on Friday. He’s at 11-under-par 131 going into Saturday’s third round.
That’s a stroke off the overnight lead concocted by Wesley Bryan, whose 66-64 combination for 12-under 130 was the best of those who had finished, which is to say, half the field. Thanks to overnight downpours on top of Thursday’s deluge, only a few groups in the afternoon half of the field had even teed off Friday evening before play was halted at 7:53 p.m. The marquee group of Zach Johnson, Brian Harman and Steve Stricker, with five JDC titles between them, was standing on the first tee when yet another shower hit the waterlogged course, which had already taken 2.17 inches of rain since late Thursday night. They will commence the second round at 7 a.m. sharp.
Close to 110 players need to complete the second round before the cut is made and the field is repaired for the third round, which should begin early in the afternoon. Thirty-nine haven’t even started. At this point, it seems unlikely the third round, expected to be played under the same “lift, clean and place” conditions as the second round, can be finished before nightfall.
Marino joked that he hadn’t seen an interview room in quite a while, but he played as if he owned Deere Run, interview room and all, on Friday, with seven birdies on his scorecard against one bogey. A long search for consistency may be paying off.
“I’ve really been struggling with my ball-striking all year,” Marino said. “I’ve been putting well and chipping well. It’s really the only thing that’s saved me.
“It’s nice to kind of see it come around and play really well.”
Marino was 3-under on each side of Deere Run.
“There were times when I could have got frustrated out there because the first nine holes I shot 3-under but could have shot 6- or 7-under,” Marino said. “Missed a lot of putts. Some good things happened near the end.”
Birdies on Nos. 7 and 8 and an up-and-down on the ninth, his last hole, “kind of saved the round,” Marino said.
Bryan, the recent graduate of the Web.com tour, is playing like a veteran Tourist. His bogey-free 64 included an outward 31 on the back nine. He credited use of “lift, clean and place” for the low number.
“We were able to fire at a lot more flags with the ball in our hand,” Bryan said. “And scores are going to continue to go low.”
Bryan played 25 1/2 holes, having stopped Thursday night with his ball on the 11th green. He made 10 birdies in his last 22 holes on Friday, but, again sounding like a veteran, especially of the Deere, felt 12-under was nowhere near the number he needed to hold the trophy on – it is to be hoped – Sunday night.
“I feel if you double that (12-under total) I’ll be right in the thick of things,” Bryan said. “Nos. 18 and 9, they’re really tough holes on any golf course. There’s some stumbling blocks out there, but for the most part its a lot of wedges and good, soft bent greens. Scores are going to continue to go low and hopefully I can keep making some birdies.”
With the jumbling of pairings, it’s difficult to say the leaders are the leaders. But at the moment, first round co-leader Tom Gillis, who lost to Jordan Spieth in a playoff last year, is third at 10-under 132 after a adding a 68 to an opening 64. Kyle Stanley is fourth at 9-under 133, with five players at 8-under: Morgan Hoffman, first round co-leader Andrew Loupe, Ben Martin and Hudson Swafford are in at 134, with Kelly Kraft 8-under after 15 holes. Sang Kung (7-under 135) and Jon Rahm (7-under through 15, and 5-under on the day) are tied for 10th, but then there’s the whole group yet to begin, including Zach Johnson, 6-under in the first round and a clear favorite.
“A lot of golf to be played,” said Loupe, who made an 8-footer to start his day and added a 70 to his opening 64.
A lot of golf.
Around Deere Run
Before Friday night’s shower, the course had taken about 3.20 inches of rain from late morning on Thursday. The weekend forecast is good. ... CBS-TV will have live coverage from 2-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. There’s no early-round weekend coverage on Golf Channel because of its Olympics coverage. ...
– Tim Cronin