Matteson Maintains Lead in John Deere Classic

Troy Matteson followed up his opening 10-under 61 with a 68 to stay atop the leaderboard in the John Deere Classic. The $4.6 million PGA Tour stop began Thursday at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill.

Matteson, a 32-year-old who's won twice on Tour, carded two birdies on the front nine and two more on the back before finally posting his first bogey of the tournament at the par-4 15th hole to reach 13-under 129.

He said the course was set up a bit differently than in the first round. "Pin placements were a little different for me," he told reporters later. "They were a little harder to get to than yesterday. But the storm was kind of moving in and looked like it was going get us. The wind picked up for a few holes, so I know that changed the way a few guys played holes."

Alone in second a stroke behind is veteran Jeff Maggert, who fired an impressive nine-birdie 62. Right behind the 48-year-old at 131 are J.J. Henry (64), Gary Christian (66), Ricky Barnes (67) and Robert Garrigus (66).

Henry, who over two days has carded 13 bogeys and two bogeys - both of the latter coming on the par-4 ninth - enjoys playing the Deere. "Just a great, fun golf course to play," said the 37-year-old. "Starting the week you know you're going to have to shoot some low scores. Greens are soft and receptive, so you got to have that aggressive mentality. I was able to get off to a good start. I think I was 8 under through the first 11 holes.

"And not really making a lot of putts. To be honest with you, I hit a lot of great iron shots, kept the ball in play off the tee. Looking back, I think my longest birdie putt might have been about six, eight feet. Hit a lot of tap ins. Kind of a very easy, if you will, 64. That ninth hole, for whatever reason I'm over par on two holes this week. I bogeyed the 9th hole both days for my only bogeys. So if I figure out this ninth hole, hopefully things will be okay this weekend."

Among those tied for seventh at 10-under 132 are Tommy Biershenk (66), two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen (65) and Steve Stricker (67), who's looking for his fourth straight Deere Classic title and a tie with his friend Tiger Woods for the most consecutive victories in the same event.

"It was fairly solid," Stricker said of his round, which followed his 65 Thursday. "I made a couple birdies probably that I shouldn't have, and then missed a couple opportunities that I should have taken advantage of. So I guess it kind of evened out. I think I actually hit the ball a little bit better today. Hit more fairways, hit more greens, so it was a good round. Wish I could have gotten a couple more out of it, but overall I'm in a good position heading into the weekend."

Biershenk, a 38-year-old PGA Tour rookie, has posted two straight 66s and is in good shape heading into the weekend. A high finish this week would go a long way to helping the Clemson grad secure his Tour card for next year. "You have to remind yourself each week is an opportunity to change your life. I knew coming into this week I'd been struggling. Just got to keep my head held high and stay confident. I knew my game was going to come around eventually."

"I'm starting to go feel the old Tommy. I'm starting to hit shots where I'm lining up at and certainly making the putts I need to make. Roundabout, my game is getting better and I'm staying patient. Yesterday was a solid day. Saved myself after missing some greens, good pars, kept the momentum going. Today, came out and carried confidence over from yesterday. I was able to make I think six birdies on the front - accompanied with two bogeys.

"Feel pretty good about my game. It's a good feeling to finally put myself in contention instead of playing bad. I've missed like five straight cuts, so it's frustrating. Certainly a whole lot more fun to be playing good."

Ted Potter Jr., another rookie who logged his first victory on Tour in last week's Greenbrier Classic, has shot rounds of 67 and 66 and is tied for 11th at 133.

Though a few players hadn't completed their second rounds as this story went to press, the cut line was projected to be 4-under 138. Among those just over that number was Troy Kelly, who lost in a playoff to Potter last Sunday. The Tacoma native has carded rounds of 68 and 71 and sits at 139.

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