JDC: Steve Wheatcroft leads after opening round

John Deere Classic

Steve Wheatcroft was the opening-round leader of the John Deere Classic after shooting a nine-under par 62 on Thursday.

He birdied the final six holes to seize the first-round lead. 

“I hit one within about five feet on 13, bout five feet on 14 and five feet on 15,” Wheatcroft said. “It’s nice to make some easier birdies.” 

One of his playing partners, Patrick Rodgers, was impressed by Wheatcroft’s ability to stay aggressive — a must at TPC Deere Run.

“It’s a golf course that you can have a good stretch at any point, I think, in the round,” Rodgers said. “So it’s a huge learning experience just to kind of hang in there. Obviously he was playing great before, but an incredible finish and an incredible round of golf.” 

Wheatcroft’s round seemingly came out of nowhere, although changing to a new driver on Wednesday might have been the secret to his first-round success.

“I’ve been slowly putting the pieces together here and putting the swing together,” said the 40-year-old professional. “The driver was the one club I just didn’t feel great with, but I hadn’t played a hole of golf with it until today…so it was a nice start for that driver today.” 

Nice is an understatement. especially for a guy who entered the tournament ranked No. 927 in the Official World Golf Rankings.   

“It’s been a brutal year to be honest with you. It’s a goofy game. You can hit a lot of great shots and not get rewarded and then hit a bunch of so-so shots and get rewarded,” Wheatcroft said. “I know how to go low. I’ve done that when I’ve been playing well and I feel like I’m playing really well right now. Hopefully we can roll it into three more good days.” 

And that’s what it’s going to take for Wheatcroft to claim the JDC crown since this golf course has surrendered more birdies than any other course on tour since 2000. 

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