Cameron Young fired a 7–under-par 64 on Friday to vault into the lead at the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill.
Young improved upon Thursday’s stellar 65 to get to 13–under 129, two strokes ahead of Adam Schenk, Brendon Todd and South Africa’s Garrick Higgo.
At No. 19 in the Official World Golf Ranking, Young is the highest-ranked player in the field at a tournament most elite players are skipping to focus on the upcoming Open Championship. But the John Deere Classic also has a reputation for crowning young, first-time PGA Tour winners, and Young would fit that bill.
The 26-year-old was PGA Tour Rookie of the Year last season, when he finished runner-up at five events, including The Open at St Andrews. But Young is still looking for his first win on tour.
“There’s a lot of golf left, and there’s a lot of people that are three and four shots behind me, and that can go away really quick,” Young said. “… There’s just nothing that I can take for granted in that respect. It’s a golf course that is very scorable when you are in control, but if you play it kind of loosely, it’s not that easy either.”
Young started his round on the back nine with three consecutive birdies at Nos. 10–12, including a chip-in at the par-4 11th. He wound up with eight birdies on the day against one bogey.
“I think I definitely drove it better yesterday,” he said. “I think I hit a few really good iron shots today, which probably helped the stats quite a bit. Then obviously I putted really nicely, especially early today.”
Schenk and Higgo carded rounds of 66 and Todd had a 65 on Friday. Schenk and William Mouw (10 under) are the only two players who are bogey-free through two days.
Schenk, from nearby Indiana, tied for fourth at the John Deere in 2021 and tied for sixth in 2019. But he is still searching for his first PGA Tour win.
“It’s great to have family support and a lot of friends out there, so that makes it nice hearing the cheers, but, hopefully, more friends and family even over the weekend,” Schenk said.
Swedish rookie Ludvig Aberg, who has made the cut in three straight PGA Tour events since turning pro last month, is in his best position yet to contend. Playing in a group with Young, Aberg matched Young’s 64 on Friday and is tied for fifth at 10 under.
His round also had something in common with Young’s.
“I chipped in on the first hole. That was fun,” Aberg said. “Airmailed the green on 10 with a wedge, and I wasn’t too happy, but I ended up chipping in. So that was nice to get off to a hot start.”
Aberg made eight birdies and just one bogey on the day, with five of those birdies coming in on the front nine.
Joining him at 10 under are Denny McCarthy (64 Friday), Mouw (66) and Kevin Roy, who was one of six players to shoot a 63 on the day.
Sweden’s Jonas Blixt followed his opening round of 62 with a 73 on Friday and fell back into a tie for 18th at 7 under. Defending champion J.T. Poston shot a 67 and is also at 7 under through two days.
Zach Johnson shot a 66 to make the cut on the number (4 under), marking his 15th straight made cut at his hometown event. The U.S. Ryder Cup captain hails from nearby Iowa City.