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J.T. Poston shoots 9-under-par 62 and leads by two at John Deere Classic

After a second-place finish last week at the Travelers Championship, J.T. Poston shot a first-round 62 in the John Deere Classic and took a two-stroke lead at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill.Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

J.T. Poston shot a 9-under-par 62 on Thursday to take a two-stroke lead in the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill.

Coming off a second-place tie last week in Connecticut, Poston eagled the par-5 second and had seven birdies in a bogey-free round at TPC Deere Run.

“It’s, obviously, why you practice and why you work as hard as you do on your game,” Poston said. “Any time you can have those rounds where you really get it going low and mistake-free, bogey-free is a bonus. It’s why you work at it and why you practice the way we do.”

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Canadian Michael Gligic was second at 64, playing in the final group of the day off the first tee. Vaughn Taylor and Christopher Gotterup followed at 65. Ricky Barnes, Denny McCarthy, Chris Naegel and Dylan Frittelli shot 66.

“Been struggling a little bit physically and haven’t been putting very well,” Taylor said. “But coming into here I told myself, `You know, I know this course, how to play it. Just go do it.’ That’s kind of how I did today. Just tried not to think about too much and just play golf.”

Poston won the 2019 Wyndham Championship for his lone PGA Tour title.

“I would say for the last few months it’s been in a good spot,” Poston said. “Just hadn’t quite seen the results. Then, Hilton Head I had a good week. Wells Fargo, good week. Last week, playing well. So I think it’s starting to kind of come together and see the results and see the shots and kind of building that confidence back into my ball-striking.

Iowa native Zach Johnson, the 2012 winner, opened with a 69 in afternoon wind in his 20th consecutive start in the event.

“That’s as hard as I’ve seen this golf course play in a long time,” Johnson said. “Granted, you got some roll, so if you land it in the fairway it was going to bounce, which is fun. But it was hard.”

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Defending champion Lucas Glover shot 74.

European — New Zealand’s Ryan Fox was surprised to find himself leading the Irish Open after the opening round, despite his impressive form this season.

Fox had eight birdies, including seven in his last 11 holes, in a flawless 8-under 64 at Mount Juliet in Thomastown, Ireland. He has a one-shot lead over Frederic Lacroix, Jorge Campillo, Fabrizio Zanotti, and Marcel Schneider.

Fox, who lost a playoff for the 2018 Irish Open to Scotland’s Russell Knox, won the Ras Al Khaimah Classic in February, finished runner-up in the Soudal Open and Dutch Open and was third in the BMW International on Sunday.

Ryan Fox plays his second shot on the eighth hole during Thursday's first-round action.Richard Heathcote/Getty

“I’m more surprised, to be honest, than anything else,” the 56th-ranked Fox said. “I’ve been fighting it on the range the last couple of days and a 64 certainly didn’t look likely early in the round.

“I made a couple of birdies but I was scrapping away and hit a great wedge on my eighth hole [the 17th] and made a few putts as well. So just one of those days that shows how important patience is in a round of golf.”

Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington shot a 2-under 70 just days after his victory in the US Senior Open, while 2019 Open champion Shane Lowry had to settle for a 71.

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“It’s a pity with the finish,” said Harrington, who bogeyed two of his last three holes. “It’s just a part of the game, isn’t it?”