Steve Wheatcroft, who is 40 years old and has never won in 166 starts on the PGA Tour, was the best player in the first round of the John Deere Classic.
Wheatcroft made birdies on the last six holes at TPC Deere run and shot a career-best, bogey-free 9-under-par 62 to take a one stroke lead over Michael Kim of Alameda and Cal in Silvis, Ill.
“I wanted to just go to the first tee and start the second round (when it was over),” said Wheatcroft, whose best finish on the circuit was a tie for second in the 2015 CareerBuilder Challenge. “I’m 40 years old; I’m realistic about where I’m at in my career at this point. I’m well back in the FedExCup, I’ve got a long ways to go.
“It’s probably the worst year I’ve had so far, but I don’t feel like I’m playing the worst golf of my career. I actually feel like I’m playing some good golf, I’m just not getting the results out of it. … But, you know, I feel like it’s close; 62 didn’t surprise me. Maybe a little bit with the new driver going it into play, but it was rock-solid today and the rest of the game was there.”
Kim, 24, who won the 2013 Nicklaus and Haskins awards as the best player in college golf for the Golden Bears but has yet to win as a pro, could have been tied for the lead but drove wildly at No. 9 and finished a 63 with his lone bogey.
Joel Dahmen holed a bunker shot from 53 yards on the 10th hole in a 64 and is tied for third with Andres Romero of Argentina, who played bogey-free, Nick Taylor of Canada and Johnson Wagner.
Francesco Molinari of Italy, who won the Quicken Loans National two weeks ago, birdied the last two holes for a 65 and is tied for seventh with Whee Kim of South Korea, Scott Brown and Denny McCarthy.
Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau was 3-over-par when he withdrew after 15 holes because of a right should injury.
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