J.T. Poston made up for two back-nine bogeys with an eagle on the par-5 17th, shooting a 4-under-par 67 on Saturday to take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill.
Trying to complete a wire-to-wire victory after tying for second last week in the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, Poston made a 13½-foot eagle putt on 17.
“That was huge kind of going into tomorrow,” Poston said about the eagle. “I wasn’t quite as sharp today off the tee and had to play a little defensive into some of the greens. Nice to put two good swings on there and make that putt to kind of capitalize and get some ground back that I had lost.”
He had a 19-under 194 total at TPC Deere Run.
Playing partner Denny McCarthy birdied the final two holes for a 66 to join Scott Stallings (64) and Emiliano Grillo (65) at 16 under.
“Was nice to finish that way,” McCarthy said. “Nice to make a putt on 18. Nice to see something go in going into tomorrow. It’s a good feeling to kind of feel like I got something out of round, birdieing the last two.”
Poston opened with rounds of 62 and 65 to take a four-stroke lead, then played the front nine in 3 under Saturday with birdies on Nos. 2, 5, and 8. He dropped a stroke on the par-3 12th, birdied the par-4 14th, and bogeyed the par-4 15th before making the big putt on 17.
From Hickory, N.C., the 29-year-old Poston won the 2019 Wyndham Championship for his lone PGA Tour title.
“Just trying to stay patient and composed,” Poston said. “I’m not trying to get too ahead of myself. Just trying to take it one hole at a time. Being in this position, I’m trying to focus especially on the shot in front of me and do the best I can and go from there.”
Stalling birdied Nos. 15-17.
“Look forward to the opportunity.” Stallings said. “Today was a big step in the right direction to tomorrow.”
Grillo birdied four of the last five.
“Everybody is in the same situation,” Grillo said. “Everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to make the most out of it. Definitely going to be a tough battle tomorrow.”
Iowa native Zach Johnson, the 2012 winner, was 8 under after a 67 in his 20th consecutive start in the event. He also eagled 17.
LIV Golf — Branden Grace won LIV Golf’s first stop on American soil in North Plains, Ore., an event that drew critics and protestors alike because of the upstart series’ funding by Saudi Arabia.
Grace closed with a 7-under 65 on Saturday to finish at 13 under in the 54-hole tournament at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club. The 34-year-old South African won $4 million.
The fledgling LIV series, fronted by CEO Greg Norman and funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, aims to challenge the PGA Tour. It has lured some players, including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Phil Mickelson, with the promise of big signing bonuses, hefty prize purses, and fewer events.
Grace beat Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz by two strokes.
“Played flawless golf, played really, really well when I needed to do something special and came up and managed to pull it out,” Grace said. “But just what a great day, it was amazing to come here, this new format, this new everything is amazing and everybody here is having a blast.”
Ortiz, ranked No. 119 in the world, shot a 69. Johnson (71) finished four back with Patrick Reed (67).
The 48-man field in Oregon competed for a $20 million purse, with an additional $5 million prize fund for a team competition. There was no cut and even the last-place finisher earned a payday of $120,000.
The Four Aces team, led by Johnson, won the team competition at Pumpkin Ridge.
LIV Golf also announced Saturday that English player Paul Casey has joined the series. Casey, 44, has won three times on the PGA Tour and 15 times on the European Tour, and is ranked No. 26 in the world. He has not played a tournament round since March because of injuries.
European — Adrian Meronk will take a narrow lead into the final round of the Irish Open as he bids to become the first Polish winner in the history of the European tour.
Meronk, who has three top-three finishes this season, carded a third round of 4-under 68 Saturday at Mount Juliet in Thomastown, Ireland, to edge in front on a crowded leaderboard. The top 14 players are separated by four shots.
At 14 under par, Meronk is one shot ahead of Jack Senior, Jorge Campillo, and Fabrizio Zanotti.