SILVIS, Ill. Lee Janzen stirred some memories and was tied with Darron Stiles for the lead after firing 7-under 64s in the first round of the John Deere Classic today.
Janzen has not won on the PGA Tour since he captured his second U.S. Open in 1998, yet he's in position after an impressive start at TPC Deere Run.
The 44-year-old was at 8 under after birdies on the 16th and 17th holes and played bogey-free golf until the 18th, when he hit a bunker and missed an 8-foot par putt. He was off the course by the time Stiles sunk a seven-foot putt for birdie on the same hole to forge the tie.
J.J. Henry, Matt Bettencourt and Dean Wilson were all one stroke off the lead at 65.
Last year's winner Kenny Perry, who's second on the money list, opened with 68, while U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover and former Masters Tournament champion Zach Johnson shot 69s. It was not a good day for David Duval, who finished with 75 and was in danger of missing the cut after a surprising three-way tie for second at the U.S. Open in June.
This time, Janzen was the veteran turning heads.
"It'd be exciting; I would love to win," Janzen said. "If it doesn't happen this week, I still think that I'm capable of winning, and it won't stop me from continuing to work on my game to get better."
An eight-time winner on the PGA Tour, Janzen has just two top-10 finishes the past three years. He's spent much of that time trying to repair his swing with Mike Bender after leaving Butch Harmon, but the results have been slow coming.
One good sign for Janzen came in April at the Verizon Heritage in Hilton Head Island, when he opened with a 6-under 65 and finished in a tie for fourth. He got another boost on Thursday, when he made a late push to grab the lead.
He was at 4 under through 12 when he birdied four of the next five holes. His seven foot birdie putt on par-5 17 put him at 8 under before his mishaps on the final hole. That created an opportunity for Stiles, who two-putted from three feet for a bogey on the 17th but made up for it on the final hole.
Otherwise, it was a good day for Janzen, who also cautioned: "It's only Thursday."
So he'll wait before he declares himself back.
"It's like starting over in some ways," Janzen said.