Aaron Rai and C.T. Pan share the John Deere Classic lead

SILVIS, Ill. (AP) — Aaron Rai of England went from a close call last week in Detroit to another chance at his first PGA Tour victory, playing another bogey-free round of 8-under 63 on Friday to share the lead with C.T. Pan going into the weekend at the John Deere Classic.

Still in the mix is Hayden Springer, who began the tournament with a 59. Springer had 12 birdies and two eagles in his first 29 holes before he began to sputter, missing a 3-foot par putt and taking a double bogey late in his round as light rain fell at the TPC Deere Run.

He had to settle for a 71 and and was among six players within two shots of the lead.

“It wasn’t too bad,” Springer said. “It was a little windier today, probably played a little tougher. I kind of hit some bumps on the back nine, but more just mental errors and not making those short putts than anything else.”

Pan holed a 100-foot chip for eagle on the reachable par-4 14th and also kept bogeys off his card for a 63.

Pan and Rai were at 14-under 128.

Rai shared the 54-hole lead in the Rocket Mortgage Classic last week and wound up one shot behind Cam Davis.

“Been playing well tee-to-green for large parts of this season. That’s kind of continued over the last few weeks,” Rai said. “And then a couple of weeks ago I spent quite a while on the green. My dad gave me a couple tips. Started working with John Graham last week, as well, a putting coach who is based out here.

“Putting all that together has definitely translated to on the course.”

Rai wasn’t the only player using some momentum from last week. Florida State sophomore Luke Clanton extended his amazing summer run with a 67 that left him at 12-under 130.

He drove the green on the 348-yard 14th hole to 15 feet for eagle. Perhaps more impressive was the way he rebounded from a double bogey on the par-4 sixth toward the end of his round with two straight birdies.

“We hadn’t really made a mistake all week, and made one tiny mistake and made double,” Clanton said. “I knew it was all right. Going to make birdie-birdie no matter that. I knew after I got that double, I said to myself, ‘We ain’t finishing at 10 under. We’re going to finish at 12.’”

He hit his tee shot on the 202-yard seventh hole to just inside 10 feet for birdie, and then made another 10-foot birdie putt on the par-4 eighth to make good on his belief.

Harry Hall (66) was at 13 under, while joining Springer and Clanton at 12 under were Eric Cole (68), Davis Thompson (67) and Denny McCarthy (66).

Another shot back was a player fresh out of college — Michael Thorbjornsen, the Massachusetts native who played at Stanford and finished No. 1 in the PGA Tour University ranking to get a full PGA Tour card for the rest of this year and all of 2025.

Thorbjornsen started his round with four straight birdies and wound up with a 64.

Two-time Deere winner Jordan Spieth at least made it to the weekend. Playing the tournament for the first time since he won it nine years ago, Spieth hit a pair of wild shots that led to bogey and put him outside the cut line until he rallied with a pair of birdies.

He missed a 4-foot birdie chance on his final hole and had to settle for a 67, making the cut with a shot to spare. But he was still eight shots behind and not particularly optimistic, mainly because of a 69 on Thursday morning in the easiest conditions.

“We had yesterday morning with no wind and a chance — ball in hand — to really take advantage,” Spieth said. “I had 18 holes of a couple under yesterday, and unless you’re absolutely perfect from there, there is not much of a chance of winning. That doesn’t mean you don’t go out and try and shoot 10 under the next day.”


AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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