Sweden’s Jonas Blixt snatched a two-shot lead over American Grayson Murray after a superb nine-under 62 in the first round of the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic on Thursday.
Blixt was on fire at the TCP Deer Run in Silva, Illinois producing eagles on the par-five second and the par-four 14th.
The only blemish for the 39-year-old, three-time winner on the PGA Tour, was a bogey on the par-four 5th hole where he two-putted after getting in trouble in the rough.
But Blixt was in blistering form on the back nine, shooting 29, with three further birdies following his brilliant eagle on the 14th.
The Swede blasted his drive 361 yards to the green and then drained a 43 foot putt.
After, he said his round had come as a surprise after a difficult season so far.
“I had six weeks off and worked a lot with my swing coach back home. I had struggled a lot I feel like (for) a few months and I think I found something this week after playing the Korn Ferry last week,” he said .
Blixt’s last win was almost six years ago and he had back surgery in 2019.
“At this point when you don’t have that much confidence in your game and you find something, you just kind of go out and see where you swing at it, and that’s what happened. I mean, 62 doesn’t happen very often on the PGA Tour, at least not for me.
“I’m very happy about it. Extremely happy about it,” he said.
Murray’s 7-under round kept him firmly on the tail of Blixt and it could have been even better.
The 29-year-old from North Carolina missed a pair of five-foot birdie putts on his first two holes, 10 and 11, and bogeyed the par-four 9th, his final hole.
“I’ve been working really hard on just a lot of things off the course,” he said.
“It makes my golf just seem easier. When things are in place off the course, you can tell a guy that his mind is in a good spot off the course by his game,” he said.
Murray had two recent successes on the secondary Korn Ferry tour and said that had helped calm him given his PGA Tour card for next season is now within reach.
“I’m in a good position out there to lock up my card here soon and I felt like coming out here with an opportunity to kind of double-dip, as you could say, and play a little more free knowing that my card is pretty much locked up out there,” he said.
South African Garrick Higgo was one of six players sitting three strokes off the lead after his bogey-free 65.
“Off the tee I was good, like I’ve been for a while now, but I felt like iron play was solid. I had some good decent iron shots, whereas in the past I would have at least a few that are no good ” he said.
“I made some solid putts, too. Yeah, just a solid round.”