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Vaughn Taylor tees off on the 17th hole during the first round of the John Deere Classic on Thursday in Silvis.

Playing in his 13th John Deere Classic, Vaughn Taylor has become accustomed to the ins-and-outs of TPC Deere Run over the years.

Already amid a solid stretch of golf the past couple of months, the 43-year-old finished with a 6-under 65 late Thursday afternoon, closing out an impressive back nine with five birdies.

Taylor sits in a six-way tie for fourth after posting eight birdies and two bogeys for his best opening-round score at the JDC since he fired a 63 in his 2004 tournament debut.

The Virginia native and 20-year pro credited his good scoring to his putter “heating up” down the stretch.

“I missed a few putts early, and got out of position on a couple holes and made bogey,” said Taylor, who positioned himself inside the top five following the strong back nine. “It was nice to get out here and play well with firm conditions and the wind blowing a little bit. It was just fun; it was a good test.”

Taylor's best JDC came in 2010 when he placed sixth. An 11-under total was good for a tie for 34th last year, and he tied for 19th at 12-under in 2017.

Taylor has finished no worse than a tie for 48th in eight JDC finishes, missing the cut four times.

“The more you play here, the more you learn where not to hit it and where you want to be. I’ve probably hit it everywhere, good and bad,” said Taylor, who sits 65th in the FedExCup standings, “It makes you smarter out there. You make better decisions when you know what’s going on.”

Taylor, 125th in the Official World Golf Rankings, uses a potential spot in The Open Championship for additional motivation as he hopes to match Thursday’s approach today.

“The scores are usually low here,” Taylor said, “so you’ve just got to keep pushing and keep making birdies.”

Taylor hasn’t missed a cut since late April and finished fourth in the Travelers Championship three few weeks ago.

If his experience at TPC Deere Run continues to serve him well, a fourth Top 10 finish in 2019 could be on the horizon.

“I’ve always loved the golf course and the tournament,” Taylor said, “so I just feel comfortable here.”

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Reporter

Drake is a part-time sports reporter for Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline.com.

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