Harman 18 holes from first win, British Open berth


Thanks to a 6-under 65 Saturday, Brian Harman finds himself one shot ahead at the John Deere Classic and 18 holes from his first PGA Tour victory. Here's how things look heading into Sunday's final round:

Leaderboard: Harman (-17), Steve Stricker (-16), Scott Brown (-15), Tim Clark (-14), Jerry Kelly (-14), Zach Johnson (-14), William McGirt (-14)

What it means: Harman earned himself a bit of a cushion with an eagle on the par-5 17th before giving a shot back with a bogey at the last. Harman has never finished better than third in his PGA Tour career, doing so earlier this year at the Northern Trust and last year at the Wyndham. Should he find a way to close on Sunday, he'll not only claim his first title, but he'll also qualify for next week's Open Championship at Hoylake. Harman made a grand total of $909,759 playing in 29 events last season. He'll walk away with $846,000 just from the Deere if he wins tomorrow. 

Round of the day: Scott Brown's bogey-free 61 wasn't just the round of the day, it was the round of the tournament. Brown made 10 birdies, six on the back, and had a chance at 59 with a second shot from 172 yards on 18. Instead, he left his approach 67 feet from the hole and two-putted for a tidy round of 10 under. For the record, Paul Goydos holds the TPC Deere Run course record with a 59 in the first round of the John Deere back in 2010.

Best of the rest: Steve Stricker nearly pulled into a tie for the 54-hole lead with a birdie on 18 for a 7-under 64. Just 5 under through two rounds, Jhonattan Vegas put up an 8-under 63 to vault himself into a tie for ninth place. Chad Campbell, only 2 under through 36, nearly challenged Harman's round of the day with a 62. Grizzled veterans Tim Clark and Jerry Kelly worked their way into the top five heading into the final round with rounds of 64 and 65.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader William McGirt lost ground thanks to a 2-under 69. His co-leader through 36 holes, Zach Johnson, did exactly the same.

Main storyline heading into Sunday: Beyond Harman, Brown, Clark, Kelly and McGirt, who are all within three shots of the lead, would qualify for the Open with a win. Otherwise, Stricker, who's already qualified and still may not play next week, is in prime position for yet another John Deere victory. Stricker won the Deere in three consecutive years - 2009, 2010 and 2011 - and could make it four out six on Sunday.