SILVIS, Ill. -- After playing well for the first two rounds of the John Deere Classic, Kirk Triplett had an encore in his golf bag.
He tied a record Saturday on the tournament's new course to surge from a fourth-place tie to the top of the leaderboard.
Triplett had a 9-under-par 62, and fin ished the round 18-under at 195. Four of his seven birdies were made on hole Nos. 8-11.
Augusta's Charles Howell stayed in contention with a 4-under 67, leaving him five shots behind Triplett entering today's final round (3 p.m., WRDW-Channel 12).
"I got off to a good start," Howell said. "I birdied the first hole, which was good to help calm me down. I let a few shots get away there and I probably should have birdied 17 and 18 from where I was but I didn't. I'm just happy that I got in with a 67."
Howell, who has earned $18,563 in two starts since opting to leave college early, is poised for the biggest paycheck of his career. It could also go a long way in helping him earn enough money to avoid the PGA Tour Qualifying School later this year.
"This was my third time on the weekend on the PGA Tour, so it's not the easiest thing in the world. I made a few birdies. I struggled with my putting earlier this week, but it's starting to come out a little bit."
Howell is tied with Chris Riley, Tim Herron and Bill Glasson for fourth place. Triplett, David Frost and Michael Clark II stand in front of Howell.
"You know, I really didn't think yes or no," Howell said when asked if he thought he would contend so soon. "I was hoping it would. You know, I played well but hard for my first pro event. I was much more nervous and uncomfortable there than I am here."
Howell tees off at 12:12 p.m. today and is paired with Glasson.
"It would definitely be a dream come true if I were to win," Howell said.
Triplett's great round came despite breezes at the Tournament Players Club at Deere Run, which made club selection harder.
"It was a little windier, playing longer in some spots and shorter in other spots," he said.
Still, he said, the young course continued to make low scores possible.
"You've got to get greedy," he said, and didn't fail when he tried.
Triplett picked up two more strokes on the par-5 17th, where he hit a 3-wood within 5 feet of the hole, then drained the putt for an eagle. Rain caught up to him on the 18th, however, and Triplett scrambled to save par after his drive drifted right.
David Frost, a two-time former tournament champion who established the course record Friday when he took the second-round lead, struggled to a 70 to trail by two shots.
After picking up an early birdie, Frost double-bogeyed No. 5 after firing his approach shot into a bunker to the left of the green, then missing a putt. He later bogeyed No. 16.
This is the second year Moline-based Deere & Co. has sponsored the tournament, which has also been played as the Miller Classic, Quad Cities Open, Hardee's Classic and Quad Cities Classic. It is the first year it has been played at Deere Run, which was built specifically to host the tournament.
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