Poston Wins 51st John Deere Classic by 3 Strokes Over Grillo and Bezuidenhout

J.T. Poston took the lead in the first round and never relinquished it en route to his second PGA victory.

The 29-year-old Poston closed with a 2-under-par 69 to win by three strokes over Emiliano Grillo of Argentina and Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa in the 51st John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill.

Poston, Grillo and Bezuidenhout earned exemptions into the 150th Open Championship on the famed Old Course in Scotland beginning on July 14.

“It’s hard to be in the lead for that long, just thinking about it, and hang on to win,” said Poston, who also won the 2019 Valspar Championship. “There were a lot of nerves and I was just trying to breathe out there, but I hit a lot of good shots down the stretch to get it done. It shows me that I can still play with these guys and win out here.

“It’s great to get a chance to play in the Open and I wouldn’t have minded playing at any of these great venues, but to play in my first one at St. Andrews will be incredible and I just can’t wait to get there. I’ve wanted to play in the Open for a long time and I’m so excited because I couldn’t have dreamed of it happening any better.”

Poston, who tied for second in the Travelers Championship last week and kept on going when he opened with a 62 in the first round of the John Deere, birdied the first three holes in the final round and after making his only bogeys later on the front nine, he reeled off 10 straight pars before sinking a six-foot birdie putt on No. 17 while recording a score of 21-under 263.

Bezuidenhout, who has won seven times as a pro but not on the PGA Tour, birdied three of the last five holes in a bogey-free 66, while Grillo, whose only PGA Tour victory came in the 2016 Open, made a six-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole and totaled 69.

“It’s definitely great, even though I didn’t win, but I knew how important this week was and now I can take a week off, rest up, recharge my batteries and then go to the Open,” said Grillo, who also won the 2015 Tour Championship. “I knew I just had to keep grinding to make it happen and I almost got it done, but in this case second means something. This was my first time here, but I’m going to add the St. Jude to my calendar every year.

“It’s great to play anywhere in the Open or in any of the major championships, but St. Andrews probably is one of the top three major venues along with Pebble Beach and the Masters (at Augusta National).”

Said Bezuidenhout: “My goal was to finish in the top three if I didn’t win and it was on my mind day. I knew I was pretty close, and I’m pleased to get in there. I’m playing in the Scottish Open this week, so we’re leaving tomorrow, and then to be playing in the 150th Open at St. Andrews is pretty special.”

Rookie Christopher Gotterup, playing on a sponsor’s exemption, birdied the last three holes to cap a bogey-free 66 and finished four shots behind in a tie for fourth with Scott Stallings, who admittedly struggled while finishing at 70, while Callum Tarrem of England also shot 70 to wind up one more down in a tie for sixth with Denny McCarthy, who had a 71.

Maverick McNealy of Stanford and Portola Valley carded a second straight 68 and was six strokes back in a tie for eighth with Cam Davis of Australia, who had a bogey-free 68, while Patrick Flavin made four birdies on the back nine in a 66 to finish seven shots down in a tie for 10th with Chesson Hadley, who posted a second straight 67, and Michael Gligic of Canada, who came in at 69.

Kevin Streelman made a hole in one from 189 yards on the 12th hole and tied for 41st after a 66.

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