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Penalty, putter costs Lee spot in playoff

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Silvis, Ill. – Danny Lee could have been, and probably should have been, at least 3 under par through three holes at the John Deere Classic on Sunday.

He missed an 8-foot putt for birdie on No. 1. He three-putted from 14 feet to settle for a par on No. 2. He missed another birdie from 16 feet on No. 3.

And then he walked up to his ball in the middle of the fourth fairway and cost himself a spot in an eventual playoff.

“I was doing lift, clean and place the whole day yesterday,” Lee said, “and just without thinking, I put the tee behind my ball and picked it up. And my caddie is going, ‘It’s not lift, clean and place today.’

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“I’m like, ‘Oh wow.”

Lee was assessed a one-stroke penalty. A few hours later he would turn in a 4-under 67 that should have been a 5-under 66. Rather than finish 20 under, he got into the clubhouse at 19, one shot out of the playoff between Jordan Spieth and Tom Gillis.

After picking up his first PGA Tour victory last week, Lee was looking to become the first player to win in back-to-back to weeks after his first victory since Camilo Villegas in 2008.

To make matters worse, Lee missed a 9-footer that would have saved his par on No. 4 after the penalty.

“I was just shocked,” he said. “What did I just do? Well, what can I do? I made a mistake, and I got over it and I tried to hit my best shots, which I did. But if I made a couple more putts on the front nine, I would be out there and might be in a playoff.”