CHICAGO (Reuters) - World number four Steve Stricker set the U.S. PGA Tour's 54-hole record on Saturday after firing a nine-under-par 62 at the John Deere Classic to charge six strokes clear.
Stricker, who shot a brilliant 60 in the opening round at the TPC Deere Run course in Silvis, Illinois, walked off with a 25-under total of 188, a stroke better than the previous three-round mark shared by John Cook, Mark Calcavecchia and Tommy Armor III.
"If I knew (what was going on), I would bottle this," Stricker told reporters. "I don't know what's going on, but I'm trying to stay in the present.
"I've been putting the ball really well, and just try and get it on there in a good spot so I have a birdie putt. And I've given myself a lot of opportunities. I hit some great iron shots today at the kick-away distance, and that helps."
Paul Goydos, who posted the U.S. Tour's fourth 59 to pip Stricker by a stroke in the first round, shot a competitive 67 but had to be content with lying a distant second tied with fellow American Jeff Maggert (63).
For all his fireworks during the week, Stricker said the rain-softened conditions were not an ideal warmup for next week's British Open at St Andrews.
"It's not a good prep for the British Open, but it's a good place to come for guys who want to play here in the States the week before, get on a charter plane and get over to the British Open in first-class style," he said.
Goydos, who started the day a stroke shy of overnight leader Stricker, could only pay tribute.
"He's playing great. He's driving the ball in the fairway, he's hitting the balls on the greens and he's making putts," he said.
"He shot 188 for three rounds. I thought 193 was pretty good ... He shoots something in the mid-60s tomorrow, I gotta shoot something in the 50s."
(Writing by Larry Fine in Oakmont, Pennsylvania; Editing by Ian Ransom)