A one-under-par round of 70 saw Seamus Power head in the wrong direction on moving day as Brendon Todd moves to the top of a stacked leaderboard at the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run.
Starting the day at -7 and tied for 18th, bogeys at the second and third holes left the Waterford man with a mountain of work to do if he was to have any chance of landing a third PGA Tour victory, and though he’d bounce back with two birdies in succession on four and five, another bogey at the eighth saw him make the turn at +1 for the day and all but out of the running.
The bogey on eight would be his last of the day, however, but two birdies on the back nine weren’t enough to reignite his victory hopes and he’ll enter the final round eight shots back in a tie for 39th at eight-under.
Overnight leader Cameron Young, still searching for his first PGA Tour win, also struggled. The 26-year-old’s approach play was uncharacteristically erratic on the opening nine, but he’d rally with three birdies on the back nine to get to -2 for the day before a costly double bogey at the last saw him drop back to level for the day and -13 overall, three strokes behind Todd.
Todd’s 66 matched his opening round score, with a 65 thrown in for good measure in round two, and he enjoys a one-stroke lead over Alex Smalley, Denny McCarthy and Adam Schenk. Smalley’s nine-under 62 was the undoubted round of the day, and saw him climb 27 places on the leaderboard and he’ll join Todd in the final group, with McCarthy and Schenk going off in the penultimate two-ball.
“Yeah, it’s just head down and make birdies,” Todd said of the gameplan in the final round. “It’s going to be hard to run away and hide here, but that’s the goal.
“Anybody who is within three shots of the lead is looking to go as low as they can. So there’s certainly going to be no defense for me tomorrow. It’s going to be the same stuff.
“If I have a wedge in my hand, I’m going for it. Par-5s you have to make birdies, and a little bit longer club, you can hit it on the green and give yourself a chance.”
“I would say after my first experience here in 2021, I liked the golf course,” Smalley said after matching the low round of the week. “I feel like it suited me relatively well, so I would say after that year I felt pretty comfortable.
“I was looking forward to coming back last year and playing as a PGA TOUR member. Yeah, I played well. I’m trying to remember how I finished. I might have had a top 20.
“Yeah, I feel very comfortable here. I think it depends on the player how comfortable they feel at different venues. Obviously some guys feel comfortable on different venues rather than some other courses.
“You know, there’s no right or wrong reason why that is. So, yeah, I would say this is an event I certainly have circled on my calendar at the beginning of the year looking forward to.”
Peter Kuest, at -14 occupies solo fifth, and there are a further eight one further adrift at -13, including Young, Lucas Glover and Chris Kirk.