WASHINGTON (AFP) – Venezuela’s Jhonattan Vegas fired a nine-under par 62 to seize the lead after Friday’s second round of the PGA John Deere Classic while American Lucas Glover made a rare albatross.
Vegas fired the second-lowest round of his PGA career, his lowest total since a 60 at the 2016 Barbasol Championship, to stand on 13-under 129 after 36 holes at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois.
American Andrew Landry fired his second 65 to hold second on 130 while Glover was another stroke adrift.
Glover, the 2009 US Open champion, holed out at the par-5 10th on his approach from 255 yards with a three-iron for the albatross, putting him in the hunt for his first PGA victory since 2011.
“I was trying to hit it short and left and I pushed it and it went in,” Glover said. “I hit it solid. I was just trying to make birdie and got lucky and made a two.”
Glover’s ball bounced four times before rolling on the 10th green and into the cup.
Vegas, 34, seeks his fourth PGA title after wins at the 2011 Bob Hope Classic and the 2016 and 2017 Canadian Opens.
He would also like the British Open berth available to the best top-five finisher not already qualified for next week’s final major of the year at Royal Portrush. He missed the cut in the Open the past two years, the only major in which he has not reached the weekend.
Vegas made a swing breakthrough on the driving range this week that has made a big difference in his game.
“Probably the best I’ve felt all year, to be honest,” Vegas said. “I hit the ball extremely well, kind of what I’ve been struggling with a little bit the past few months.
“My game is in a good place.”
A posture adjustment paid big dividends for Vegas.
“Phenomenal round. I felt absolutely in control with my irons the whole round. It has been a long time since I felt this good,” Vegas said.
“I decided to reset my posture, get in a little bit different posture, and it was magical. Everything started to go in.”
It marked the sixth consecutive US PGA round with a player firing a 62. Since 2000, TPC Deere Run has surrendered more birdies than any other tour course.
The success comes as Vegas’ wife, Hildegard, is expecting to give birth to the couple’s second child, a boy, early next month.
Vegas, who began on the back nine, opened with a 14-foot birdie at the 10th and added a 12-footer to birdie the 13th. Six-footers for birdie followed at the 14th and par-3 16th and he dropped his approach to three feet to set up a birdie at the par-5 17th.
The 95th-ranked South American star ran off three birdies in a row starting with a tap-in at the par-5 second, holing a 29-foot putt at the par-3 third and a seven-footer at the fourth.
Vegas holed out from the rough from 20 feet for par at the fifth and birdied the eighth from 15 feet to complete his stellar round.
Landry, another back-nine starter, birdied four of his first eight holes then birdied three in a row just after making the turn, but a bogey at the sixth left him in second.