J.T. Poston completed a wire-to-wire victory Sunday in the John Deere Classic for his second PGA Tour title and a spot in the British Open.
Three strokes ahead entering the day at TPC Deere Run, Poston closed with a 2-under 69 for a three-stroke margin over fellow British Open qualifiers Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Emiliano Grillo.
Poston is the third wire-to-wire winner in tournament history, following Scott Hoch in 1980 and David Frost in 1992. The 29-year-old player from Hickory, North Carolina, finished at 21-under 263. He opened 62-65-67.
“It’s just tough to play with the lead,” Poston said. “There is just a little bit of added pressure. Wire-to-wire, pretty much having the lead from Thursday on, I told all the media after every round that I was just trying to stick to my game plan and I wasn’t going to think about it.
“The truth is it’s hard not to think about the finish line and what comes with it, all that comes with getting win out here. As much as you try and put that aside and not think about it, it’s tough not to.”
Poston birdied the first three holes Sunday, bogeyed Nos. 5 and 6 and parred the next 10. He made a 4-footer for birdie on the par-5 17th and parred the 18th.
“I was just trying to breathe,” Poston said. “I was really. I think there were a lot of nerves, a lot more than the first few days. I was just battling through them. I think after today, after this week, I feel like knowing I can play with those nerves and I can still win, still shoot a solid score considering the pressure and trying to win out here.”
Poston won a week after tying for second in Connecticut in the Travelers Championship. He also won the 2019 Wyndham Championship.
“They don’t come easy out here and I really wanted to get that second win to sort of validate Wyndham,” Poston said. “So, it feels good to get it out of the way.”
The British Open is July 14-17 at the Old Course at St. Andrews.
“I can’t wait,” Poston said. “I’ve always wanted to play in one of those at any venue, but first one to be in St. Andrews and the 150th, I can’t wait to get there and see what it’s like.”
Bezuidenhout shot a 66, and Grillo had a 69.
“I just knew I needed a solid week,” Grillo said. “I just needed to play well and go up the rankings and have a job for next year. That was more important for me than going to the Open. Now I get both, so that’s pretty special.”
Christopher Gotterup, the former Rutgers player in the field on a sponsor exemption, had a 66 to tie for fourth at 17 under with Scott Stallings (70).
“Just more validation that I do belong out here,” Gotterup said. “And honestly, I didn’t have my greatest stuff this week. Hit it amazing, but just putted pretty poorly until coming down the stretch.”