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Aaron Rai rides birdie blitz to tie for halfway lead at John Deere Classic

Five birdies in his back nine lifted England's Aaron Rai into a share of the halfway lead of the John Deere Classic in Illinois.

Rai added a second round 63 to his opening 65 to move to 14-under-par alongside Taiwan's CT Pan.

Two birdies in the last three holes for a 66 left fellow Englishman Harry Hall a shot off the pace, one clear of a group which includes first-round leader Hayden Springer.

Springer, who shot the 14th 59 on the PGA Tour in the opening round, had joined the leaders at 14-under-par before a double bogey on the 15th dropped him back as he carded a 71.

Rai will be aiming to go one better than last week when he finished a shot behind Cam Davis after heading into the final round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic with a share of the lead.

He credits his run of form with improvements on the green to match his approach play.

"A couple of weeks ago I spent quite a while on the green," he said. "My dad gave me a couple tips. Started working with John Graham last week, as well, a putting coach who is based out here.

"Putting all that together has definitely translated to on the course."

Pan admitted he was "impressed" by his efforts after a difficult night's sleep.

"I had a really serious conversation with my Olympic committee just trying to figure out all the arrangements," said the bronze medallist from Tokyo. "Did not go well. I can tell you that. I didn't sleep well.

"That's the biggest event for my country and myself, also. And it would be really cool to play well at an event that only happens once every four years."
 

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