In the opening round of the John Deere Classic, Jonas Blixt surged ahead, delivering a scorching performance at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois. With an impressive finish on the back nine, Blixt shot a remarkable 9-under 62, securing a two-shot lead over Grayson Murray.
Murray started off strong, reaching 8 under through 13 holes but struggled to maintain his momentum. A bogey on the final hole left him with a 64 for the day. Among the chasing pack, Cameron Young, ranked 19th in the field, also closed with a bogey, ending three shots behind the leader.
At 39 years old, Blixt, a three-time winner on the TOUR, possesses only conditional status and is participating in his first PGA TOUR start since the AT&T Byron Nelson in May. After spending most of the past six weeks working on his swing with his coach, Blixt felt a breakthrough during practice on Tuesday.
Reaching a point in his season where the pressure no longer weighs heavily on him, Blixt approached the tournament with a relaxed mindset, stating, "Golf is weird. Like, tomorrow I can shoot 100 I feel like, but today was a great day."
Blixt's remarkable round included a scintillating 7-under 29 on the back nine, marking his first time breaking 30 for nine holes on the TOUR. Notably, he drove the green on the 360-yard, par-4 14th hole, sinking a remarkable 43-foot putt for an eagle. Closing with a flourish, he hit an approach shot from a fairway bunker within 5 feet on the par-4 18th, securing a birdie.
Having triumphed last in 2017 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Blixt faced setbacks due to back surgery two years later, leading to a period of struggle. Currently ranked 842nd in the world, he expressed gratitude for his past experiences on the TOUR, emphasizing the importance of appreciating the journey.
Grayson Murray, with his best round on the TOUR in three years, carded a solid 64. With recent success on the Korn Ferry Tour, including a win and a third-place finish, Murray arrived at the John Deere Classic with the opportunity to secure his TOUR card.
Following a knee injury from a scooter accident in Bermuda, Murray withdrew from the Bermuda Championship but returned in January on the Korn Ferry Tour. He has since prioritized using his free time effectively, engaging in activities such as going to the gym or watching movies to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
As a 29-year-old seasoned player, Murray acknowledged his potential for further growth, stating, "I kind of had a coming-to-Jesus moment a little bit and said, hey, look, I have an opportunity here. I probably haven’t reached my prime yet."
Joining Cameron Young at a solid 65 were Greyson Sigg, Garrick Higgo, Adam Schenk, Nate Lashley, and Richy Werenski, all in contention as they chase the leader, Jonas Blixt, in the following rounds of the John Deere Classic.