Lewis extends lead at John Deere

JL Lewis shot a two-under 69 on Saturday, extending his lead to three strokes at 15-under 198 after three rounds of the John Deere Classic, earning all the attention following the elimination of 15-year-old Michelle Wie from the event.

Hank Kuehne shot a 67 and was at 12-under along with Richard S Johnson (68) and Craig Bowden (68).

Jeff Brehaut (66) and Robert Damron (69) are at 11 under.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever won from the front on a tour event,” said Lewis, who won in a playoff here in 1999 and came from seven shots back to win the 84 Lumber Classic in 2003.

“I don’t really consider it a lead because if you go out there and you don’t play well, they’re going to blow right by you,” he added. “I was surprised somebody didn’t do it today. I figured I’d have to shoot three or four under just to stay where I’m at.”

Lewis led after the second round, too, but Wie garnered the overwhelming share of attention, trying to become the first woman in 60 years to make the cut on the United States PGA Tour.
But she played the final four holes in three over par and missed by two strokes.

“I thought it was phenomenal,” Lewis said. “She’s only 15 years old. Where were you guys when you were 15 years old? I’m looking at her, going, ‘Geez, she’s great.’ I was hoping she’d make the cut.”

Instead, Wie was headed to Ohio for the men’s US Amateur Public Links next week and attention at the TPC at Deere Run was back on the guys.

The crowds looked smaller on Saturday, or at least more spread out.

Lewis got off to a slow start with a bogey on the first hole, but birdied numbers seven and eight and finished with another on 15.

Johnson looked as if he might challenge Lewis when he holed a shot from 138 yards out for an eagle on number one. But he’d fallen back to par for the day by the sixth hole, and couldn’t get much else going.

He came close to another eagle on the par-five 17th, but his putt from 11 feet hung on the lip of the cup and refused to drop.

“I was just expecting it to go to the middle of the hole, and then all of a sudden, for some reason, it just broke a little right,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t believe it. I got a good bounce on number one, so it probably evened out.”

Kuehne made a late run, shooting four under over his last six holes. He almost had a fifth birdie, too, but the ball stopped less than six inches from the cup on number 18.

“I’m going to have to go out there and make four, five, six birdies tomorrow and play a solid round,” Lewis said. “That’s how you do it. You’ve got to give yourself an opportunity.”—Sapa-AP

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