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  • Associated Press Leader Roberto Diaz putts on the 9th green during the first round of the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill., on Thursday.

Friday, July 12, 2019 1:00 am

Golf

Deere Classic leader shoots 62

Associated Press

SILVIS, Ill. – Roberto Diaz shot a 9-under 62 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the John Deere Classic.

Playing in the final group of the day off the first tee, the 32-year-old Mexican player birdied four of the first five holes, eagled the par-5 10th and birdied three of the last five in the bogey-free round at TPC Deere Run. He took the lead with a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-3 16th.

“I just feel that everything clicked,” Diaz said. “I've been playing pretty solid throughout the year. The driver has been awesome. I've been hitting a lot of fairways, and today I hit good numbers all day, and that helps.”

Winless on the PGA Tour, Diaz tied for eighth at the Travelers Championship last month.

Americans Adam Long and Russell Henley were two strokes back. Martin Laird was another stroke back at 65 with Ryan Palmer, Andrew Landry, Vaughn Taylor, Zack Sucher and Ryan Blaum.

LPGA: In Sylvania, Ohio, Alena Sharp of Canada and Youngin Chun of South Korea shared the Marathon Classic lead at 7-under 64, a stroke ahead of Stacy Lewis and three others at Highland Meadows Golf Club.

The 38-year-old Sharp, winless on the LPGA Tour, had eight birdies and a bogey.

The 19-year-old Chun, also seeking her first LPGA Tour victory, had a bogey-free round.

Lewis won the last of her 12 LPGA Tour titles in 2017. She was born in nearby Toledo and has an endorsement deal with Marathon Oil.

CHAMPIONS: In Akron, Ohio, Steve Stricker topped the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship leader board at 5 under with a hole to play when the first round was suspended for the day because of lightning.

Coming off a victory two weeks ago in the U.S. Senior Open at Notre Dame, Stricker had a hole-in-one on the 184-yard, par-3 seventh at Firestone Country Club – the longtime home of a World Golf Championships event and previously the World Series of Golf.

Stricker is seeking his third straight major victory on the PGA Tour Champions, a run that began with the Regions Tradition. He's playing the 50-and-over event instead of going for a fourth victory at the John Deere Classic on the PGA Tour.

Play was suspended at 12:55 p.m., and called for the day at 4:30 p.m.

Paul Goydos was second at 2 under after five holes.

EUROPEAN: In North Berwick, Scotland, Matt Kuchar shot an 8-under 63 to share the lead with three players in a low-scoring opening round at the Scottish Open.

Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, the highest-ranked players in the field, opened with 67s – a score only slightly better than the field average on a day when 118 players broke par at The Renaissance Club, which was softened by heavy early-morning rain.

Kuchar, who has two previous top-four finishes at the Scottish Open, made two eagles on his first nine and ran off four birdies in five holes to reach 9 under before bogeying his last hole of the day, the par-3 ninth.

“Conditions were pretty easy when we started the round. Still, 8-under on a links golf course, I didn't see those kind of scores for myself, or even for anybody,” Kuchar said. “Wind picked up there the last two hours. It was challenging. I was awfully glad to keep the ball in play and I snuck in a couple eagles, which were awfully helpful.”

He was joined atop the leader board by Romain Wattel, Nino Bertasio and Edoardo Molinari.

The leading three players not exempt for the British Open who finish inside the top 10 will earn spots in the field next week at Royal Portrush. Wattel, Bertasio and Molinari – whose brother Francesco is the defending champion – have yet to qualify.

Lee Slattery, Erik Van Rooyen, Thomas Pieters, Andy Sullivan, Jamie Donaldson, Kalle Samooja and Thomas Aiken had 64s.

Henrik Stenson and Ian Poulter were among those at 65.