Cameron Young leads John Deere Classic by 2, seeking long-awaited first tour win

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Cameron Young watches his shot out of the rough on the 17th hole during the second round of the John Deere Classic golf tournament, Friday, July 7, 2023, at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

SILVIS, Ill. – Cameron Young shot a 7-under 64 on Friday to take a two-stroke lead halfway through the John Deere Classic and put himself into position to erase an unwelcome distinction from his PGA Tour resume.

Young was at 13-under 129 at TPC Deere Run, with Garrick Higgo (66), Adam Schenk (66) and Brendon Todd (65) chasing at 11 under.

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The 26-year-old Young did everything but win last season en route to being named the tour's rookie of the year. He was the runner-up at the British Open, tied for third at the PGA Championship and played on the winning U.S. Presidents Cup team.

Young now has six runner-up finishes without a victory — tied with Colin Montgomerie and Briny Baird for the most in the past 40 years. Nonetheless, he believes it's OK to think about winning from the minute he arrives at a venue.

“Obviously I’m in a better position than you find yourself most weeks to do that, but that just really means I’m kind of accomplishing my goals thus far this week and doing my job well,” Young said. “So that’s all I can try to keep doing.”

Ludvig Aberg, William Mouw, Denny McCarthy and Kevin Roy were 10 under, three shots back. Roy, a 33-year-old tour rookie, shot a career-best 63 after missing the cut in six of his previous eight events. Aberg and McCarthy each shot 64 and Mouw had his second straight 66.

Young began the day three shots behind first-round leader Jonas Blixt and quickly got to the top with birdies on his first three holes — the 10th, 11th and 12th. He closed with birdies on two of his final three holes.

Young, who had his most recent runner-up in March when Sam Burns beat him in the final at the Match Play, has made 15 birdies and two bogeys through two rounds and thinks he has a good mindset to break through.

“I think it's just remaining really committed to what we've planned on for how to play the golf course and just keep myself in each shot as much as I can,” he said.

Higgo, who started on the back nine, got within a stroke of Young with a birdie on the par-3 seventh. But a bogey on his closing hole dropped him into a tie for second.

Higgo began the week 84th in the FedEx Cup standings; the top 70 qualify for the tour's postseason.

“I'm just going to try and do what I've been doing, that be great,” he said. “It'll be good momentum going into the next couple of weeks."

Schenk had five birdies without a bogey while Todd had a run of four birdies in five holes midway through the round.

Mild conditions and a bit of rain left the TPC Deere Run susceptible to low scores. Jim Herman made 10 birdies, including seven straight, for a 63. Four others besides Herman and Roy matched that score on Friday: Kevin Streelman, Sepp Straka, Yuto Katsuragawa and amateur Michael Thorbjornsen.

McCarthy may have signed the oddest scorecard of the day. Over his last 11 holes, he posted eight birdies, including five straight, a bogey, a double bogey and just one par.

Asked to explain, McCarthy answered, “I don't know.”

“When I get hot, I get hot,” he said. “I like to just get going and keep going.”

Blixt, who opened with a 9-under 62, shot 73 to fall six shots off the lead.

Young will have two more days to try to impress U.S. Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson, a native of nearby Iowa and a past John Deere champion. Johnson birdied his next-to-last hole to make the cut on the number at 4-under.


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