By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
When Kirk Triplett says he’s just happy to be at the John Deere Classic, it’s not a cliché. Playing on past champion status for the last two years, Triplett can’t exactly pick and choose where and when he’ll play, so he’ll take what he can get -- especially when he makes eight birdies on his way to a 6-under 65 that has him near the top of the leaderboard.
“I'm the last guy in the field this week and thrilled just to get a chance to play, so I'm very happy to get some rounds under par and hopefully go out and try and catch lightning in a bottle on the weekend,” Triplett said.
At 49 years old, Triplett has plenty of experience at TPC Deere Run. But not getting regular reps doesn’t exactly make things easy for him.
“I'm not out here week in and week out so I’m not firing on all cylinders all the time,” he said. ”I'm always kind of wondering what's going to happen next kind of deal instead of, okay, we'll get after it this week and then see what happens next week, because quite often I'm not playing the following week.
“The last couple years have been difficult from that standpoint.”
That said, Triplett made things look pretty easy on Friday.
He birdied five of his first seven holes and then added three more on the back before making a bogey on the par-5 17th.
“This course fits my eye,” Triplett said. “It's tight in spots and open in other spots and has some elevation change. I've seen it under a bunch of different conditions, maybe more so than some guys.
“I think you just have to keep the gas pedal down. It's not the kind of course where you go out and get to 10 under and wait around and think a couple even pars are going to win the tournament for you. I remember even from the first year, very first year we played here I was in a playoff, and you just had to keep making birdies.”