Golf: Michael Kim marks 25th birthday by stretching lead at John Deere Classic to five shots after three rounds

Michael Kim playing a shot during the third round of the John Deere Classic on July 14, 2018.
Michael Kim playing a shot during the third round of the John Deere Classic on July 14, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS/USA TODAY SPORTS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Michael Kim celebrated his 25th birthday with a seven-under 64 in the third round of John Deere Classic on Saturday (July 14), stretching his lead to five strokes over Bronson Burgoon.

He shrugged off two weather delays, capping his round with four straight birdies to put himself in prime position to strike on Sunday for a first US PGA Tour title.

He had a 54-hole total of 22-under at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois.

Burgoon's five-under 66 included an eagle at the par-five second and three straight birdies to close his round.

It left the American on 17-under 196, one stroke in front of Australian Matt Jones - who eagled the 17th on the way to a 66 for 197.

American Harold Varner was alone in fourth after a 66 for 198.

Another long day started with a handful of players returning to complete their second rounds after weather disruptions on Friday.

That included Kim, who closed his second round with a bogey but still took a three-shot lead over four players into the third round, a quartet that included Burgoon.

Third round play was interrupted for nearly three hours by dangerous weather conditions on Saturday morning.

Kim was playing the 14th when weather halted play again for an hour in the evening.

When play resumed he did not miss a beat, rolling in birdie putts of 20 feet and 19 feet at Nos. 15 and 16, then adding an eight-foot birdie at the 17th and 10-foot birdie at the last.

"Before the round had some jitters a little bit," Kim said. "But as soon as I teed off and birdied the second hole that kind of put me at ease. I felt comfortable the entire day."

He finished with eight birdies overall and one bogey - a three-putt at the par-three seventh.

That bogey, along with Burgoon's early eagle and tap-in birdie at the seventh, saw Burgoon briefly pull within one stroke of Kim.

That charge stalled with seven straight pars, followed by a bogey at the par-four 15th shortly after play resumed in the wake of the second weather delay.

He finished on a high note, however, with a trio of birdies and like Kim will be trying on Sunday to become the 21st player to make the John Deere Classic his first PGA Tour triumph.

Kim, a contemporary of such PGA Tour standouts as Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, is seeking his first title in his 84th tour start, but said he will not be thinking in those terms.

Instead on Sunday he'll "try not to think too much about what the win might mean for me or anything like that - just focus on the shot at hand".