Roberto Diaz of Mexico has never won on the PGA Tour, but you wouldn’t know it by the way he played in the first round of the 49th John Deere Classic.
Playing in the final group of the day off the first tee, the 32-year-old Diaz posted a bogey-free 9-under-par 62 to take a two-stroke lead over Adam Long and Russell Henley at TPC Deere Run https://tpc.com/deererun in Silvis, Ill.
“I just feel that everything clicked,” said Diaz, who tied for eighth in the Travelers Championship last month. “I’ve been playing pretty solid throughout the year. The driver has been awesome. I’ve been hitting a lot of fairways, and today I hit good numbers all day, and that helps.
“I’ve been playing pretty good the whole, since February I’ve been playing really solid. I changed my clubs around the end of January, and I put new shafts in it, and they’ve been working great. I’ve had a lot of solid rounds throughout the year. I played good in San Antonio the first two rounds, played good in the Wells Fargo, also. I played good at Travelers.
“I think the work that I’ve been putting in the last couple weeks, it’s starting to pay off, and obviously it’s crunch time. We have four more tournaments to go, and I’m trying to get into the (FedEx Cup) Playoffs.”
Diaz birdied four of the first five holes, sank his third shot for an eagle on No. 10 and added three more birdies down the stretch in a flawless round.
Long, who claimed his first PGA Tour victory earlier this year in the Desert Classic, and Henley, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, each carded four birdies on both nines in their 64s.
Martin Laird of Scotland shot 65 and is tied for fourth with Andrew Landry, Ryan Palmer, Zack Zucher and Ryan Blaum.
Joaquin Niemann of Chile, 20, formerly the No. 1 amateur world, totaled 66 and is in a big tie for 10th with Denny McCarthy, Austin Cook, Ted Potter Jr., Daniel Berger, Cameron Tringale of Mission Viejo, Dylan Frittelli of South Africa, Bill Haas, Brendon Todd and Cameron Davis of Australia.
Matthew Wolff of Agoura Hills, who won the 3M Open last week in his fourth PGA Tour start, carded a 67 and is in a tie for 20th that includes 2016 John Deere champion Ryan Moore and 2014 winner Brian Harman.
Jonathan Byrd, the 2007 winner, is tied for 78th at 70 and 2012 champ Zach Johnson champ is tied for 123rd at 71. Johnson’s streak of 40 rounds at par or better came to an end when he made a bogey on the final hole.
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