By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Doesn’t seem fair, really. Brendon de Jonge has shot 66-66-63 through three rounds at the John Deere Classic – 18 under – and he’s not leading.
He’s trailing Steve Stricker by two shots going into the final round, as the two-time defending champion is turning in his usual effort at TPC Deere Run – 20 under, including his own Saturday 63. But the Zimbabwe native isn’t fazed.
He knows this is how the ball bounces at this event.
“I almost expect it around here,” de Jonge said. “Obviously (Stricker) knows how to play this golf course very, very well. He's very comfortable around it. But no, it's nice. I do have a chance tomorrow, which is great.”
De Jonge is seeking his first PGA TOUR win, and this year hasn’t been quite as fruitful as last year, when he finished third three times among seven top 10s. In 2011 he has just one top-10 so far, a T5 at the Transitions Championship in March, and came to the John Deere with three missed cuts in his last six starts and no finishes in the top 50.
But last year’s effort at TPC Deere Run, a seventh-place finish, gave de Jonge confidence.
“I realize that you gotta take advantage of a bunch of holes out there, and there's also a bunch of tough holes where you're happy to make a par and now you know hopefully how to play it the way it's supposed to be,” he said.
De Jonge will be in a unique spot Sunday, playing in the final group with Stricker, a virtual native son of the area who, oh yeah, has won the event the last two years. It’s not exactly a home game for a guy looking for his first win.
“I think a win regardless of who you beat would be wonderful. But yeah, definitely an awesome challenge,” de Jonge said.
“Regardless of who it is, you're going to have to play a good round of golf and you're going to have to make a bunch of birdies.”
In other words, keep doing what he’s been doing for three rounds. And hope that it’s somehow enough to take down the king of TPC Deere Run.