(Reuters) - Brian Harman hit almost every fairway and green to shoot six-under-par 65 and lead fellow American Steve Stricker by one stroke after the third round at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois, on Saturday.
Harman, unlike his nearest rival, is carrying his passport in case he earns a late ticket to the British Open next week.
Seeking his first win in his 88th start on the PGA Tour, Harman took advantage of generous hole locations and preferred lies after overnight rain to compile a round that included two eagles but was capped by a disappointing bogey at the last.
Harman was at 17-under, while Stricker (64), who has won three times at the TPC Deere Run, was alone in second place after sinking a long birdie at the last.
Another American, Scott Brown, was two back after a 61, the best round of the day.
“I‘m going to try to shoot the lowest score I possibly can,” Harman told reporters. “If it’s good enough, great. If not, I’ll be chilling on the boat next week.
“It’s a first shot golf course. You’ve got to really get in good position to attack those pins. They were decently accessible today and I made a couple of putts and shot a good score.”
Stricker, meanwhile, has already pulled out of the British Open for the second straight year, notwithstanding that he has does not have a major title on an otherwise impressive resume that includes 12 PGA Tour victories.
Whatever his attitude towards the Open, he has an affinity for this week’s venue.
“I have good feelings when I step up to the putts here,” he said. “To get back in the winner’s circle would mean a lot, so there will be some pressure on me as well as everybody else, but there is a comfort factor here for me for sure.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Gene Cherry