Jonas Blixt of Sweden has been off for six weeks and didn’t see what was coming.
The 39-year-old Blixt made two eagles and shot a blistering nine-under-par 62 and took a two-stroke lead over Grayson Murray after the opening round of the 52nd John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill.
“Oh, absolutely not,” Blixt said when asked if expected anything like it after tying his career-low round. “I had six weeks off and worked a lot with my swing coach back home. At this point, when you don’t have that much confidence in your game and you find something, you just kind of go out and see where you swing at it, and that’s what happened.
“I mean, 62 doesn’t happen very often on the PGA Tour, at least not for me. I’m very happy about it. Extremely happy about it. I kind of came to the point in my season where it’s so late that I don’t feel any pressure anymore really and just kind of go out and swing at it. Golf is weird. Like, tomorrow I can shoot 100, I feel like, but today was a great day.
“Am I happy about a nine-under first round? Absolutely. Stoked about it. But does it really mean anything? Not really. What matters is the back nine on Sunday.”
Blixt, who has won three times on the PGA Tour and four times as a professional but not since 2017, sank a five-foot eagle putt on the second hole and a 43-footer for another eagle at No. 14, added six birdies and made his lone bogey on the fifth hole.
Murray, who has claimed two of his five pro victories on the Korn Ferry Tour including the AdventHealth Championship in May, collected five of his six birdies after starting on the back nine, holed out for an eagle on the second hole and had his only bogey while finishing at No. 9.
“Obviously, I’ll take it, even with a bogey on the last hole,” said Murray, whose only PGA Tour victory came in the 2017 Barbasol Championship. “It’s difficult to win on any tour out here, but when you do it, does wonders for your confidence. Winning on the Korn Ferry Tour showed me I still can do it.
“I missed a few short birdie putts on the front nine, but my caddie kept me in it so I remained patient and made a bunch of birdies after that, and obviously the eagle on the second hole was a bonus. But there’s a long ways to go and you can’t slack off, or a bunch of people will be going right by you.
“I just want to keep doing what I’m doing to be in there Sunday with a chance.”
Cameron Young, the 2021-22 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, collected seven birdies before making his only bogey at No. 18 in a 65 and is in a big tie for third with Greyson Sigg, who played bogey-free; Garrick Higgo of South Africa, who also did not have a bogey; Adam Schenk, who had three birdies on each nine in yet another bogey-free round; Nate Lashley, who birdied the first three holes of the back nine, and Richy Werenski, who had nine birdies to go with three bogeys.
Rookie William Mouw of Chino and Pepperdine carded a bogey-free 66 to finish in a tie for ninth with Seamus Power of Ireland, who birdied six of the first eight holes after starting on the back nine; Brendon Todd, who also played bogey-free; Alex Smalley, who had four late birdies in another bogey-free round, and Akshay Bhatia of Northridge, who made all five of his birdies on his back nine in yet another bogey-free round.
Defending champion J.T. Poston is in a tie for 23rd at 68 after making all five of his birdies on the back nine, while Lucas Glover, the 2021 John Deere Classic winner and the 2009 U.S. Open champion, birdied the last hole for a 69 and tied for 41st.
For complete results and second-round tee times, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard