Todd scrambles for closing par to take the lead at John Deere Classic

SILVIS, Ill. — Brendon Todd scrambled for par on the par-4 18th to take a one-stroke lead Saturday in the John Deere Classic, holing a 12-foot putt after drawing an awkward stance near a fairway bunker.

Todd had a 5-under 66 in breezy conditions to reach 16-under 197 at TPC Deere Run. The three-time PGA Tour winner drove close to the left fairway bunker on 18, forcing him to hit with his left foot in grass and his right foot well below in the sand. He advanced it 65 yards to set up a 105-yard wedge.

“Kept me bogey-free and kept me in the lead,” Todd said. “You always want to be the guy being chased.”

Todd eagled the par-5 second, holing a 25-footer, and birdied Nos. 13, 15 and 16. The 37-year-old former Georgia player, the only tour winner in the top five on the leaderboard, won the 2014 Byron Nelson and added victories in consecutive starts in November 2019 in Bermuda and Mexico.

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“It’s just head down and make birdies,” Todd said. “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.”

Alex Smalley (62), Denny McCarthy (66) and Adam Schenk (67) were tied for second.

“I feel like a veteran here,” Smalley said. “I’ve only had two years on tour, and this is my third year at this event, so it’s one of the few events where I feel like I know the course decently well. I feel comfortable here. I like the atmosphere of this tournament.”

McCarthy eagled the par-4 14th, hitting a 342-drive onto the green and making a 30-foot putt, then rebounded from a bogey on 16 with a birdie on 17.

“It was pretty gusty,” McCarthy said. “Hit a lot of really good shots early on, actually, and just didn’t really convert on some of the close-in putts, but then made a couple bombs to make up for it.”

Peter Kuest (65) was 14 under. He will become eligible for special temporary membership for the tour by completing the tournament.

Second-round leader Cameron Young (71) was 13 under with first-round leader Jonas Blixt (65), Chris Kirk (66), defending champion J.T. Poston (65), Lucas Glover (66), Kevin Roy (68), Mark Hubbard (67) and William Mouw (68).

After birdieing Nos. 16 and 17, Young hit his 165-yard approach on 18 left into the water and closed with a double bogey. He has six runner-up finishes on the PGA Tour without a victory — tied with Colin Montgomerie and Briny Baird for the most in the past 40 years.

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson, form nearby Iowa and a past John Deere champion, was tied for 39th at 8 under after a 67. He made the cut Friday on the number.

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