William McGirt fired a 5-under-par 66 and tied Zach Johnson for the lead midway through the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill.
The 35-year-old McGirt, whose only pro victory came in the 2007 Cabaruss Championship on the Tahrheel Tour, carded six birdies in a span of eight holes while finishing on the front nine and had eight birdies in his round.
“Obviously, I’m very pleased with it,” said McGirt, who has only two top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this season, the best a tie for sixth in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera. “I started on the front nine and nothing was really happening, but I got to the back and it was just bam-bam-bam.
“It was just another solid day and I’ll take two more just like it. The wind was kind of shifting around and you just had to go with what you were feeling and trust it.”
Johnson, who won the John Deere two years ago and has finished in the top three in four of the last five years, followed his opening 63 with a 67 despite making two bogeys on the last four holes.
Johnson Wagner holed a seven-foot eagle putt on the second hole in a round of 65 and was one shot back in a tie for third with Steven Bowditch of Australia, who had a 67, and Brian Harmon, who came in at 68.
Steve Stricker, who won this tournament in 2010 and 2011, carded a 65 and was three shots behind in a tie for sixth with Rory Sabbtatini of South Africa, who had a 70, Ryan Moore, who shot 67, and Todd Hamilton, who finished a 69.
Defending champion Jordan Spieth, who opened with a scrambling 71, bounced back with a 64 and was five strokes behind in a tie for 16th.