STUART APPLEBY is off to a strong start at the 2012 John Deere Classic shooting a 5-under 66 at the TPC Deere Run in Illinois.
The Aussie US PGA Tour veteran had seven birdies, an unblemished four coming home on his back nine.
That was still five shots behind tearaway leader Tory Matteson, who produced the joint lowest round of his career to finish at 10-under on 61.
On a day of perfect conditions and low scoring, the American was three in front of compatriot Ricky Barnes with seven golfers tied for third on 6-under, including Steve Stricker, angling for his fourth straight win.
There’s more than just the hefty winner’s cheque and FedEx Cup points up for grabs at this event, with a British Open spot going to the leading golfer in the top five not already a starter.
That would include Appleby should he improve his current position, which is tied for 10th.
Matteson, a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR, birdied five holes on each nine at TPC Deere Run course and got off to an uncharacteristically good start with three on his first four holes.
“I’ve always been one of the slow-starting Thursday players,” Matteson said. “If I could do one thing differently in my entire career, it would be to be a faster starter.”
Nathan Green was the next best placed Aussie on 4-under with Nick O’Hern and Matt Jones 3-under and John Senden a stroke further back.2012 John Deere Classic Leaderboard