John Deere Classic preview

The PGA Tour heads to Illinois this week for the John Deere Classic. Steve Stricker defends the title and there’s a final chance for someone to secure a spot in the Open Championship.

Steve Stricker defends

Lowdown: The PGA Tour heads to Illinois this week for the John Deere Classic. Steve Stricker defends the title and there's a final chance for someone to secure a spot in the Open Championship. The course at TPC Deere run in Illinois was designed by DA Weibring in 1999 but it was remodelled by the PGA Tour in 2007. It has been host to the John Deere Classic since 2000. The course is located near the Rock River and the valley it creates affects a number of holes here. It may not be the most significant event on the PGA Tour schedule in terms of prize money or Fed-Ex Cup points, but there's a Major incentive on offer. The winner of the tournament, of first player in the top-5 not already exempt, will receive a spot in the Open Championship at Royal St George's. The tournament organisers at the John Deere have, once again, chartered a plane for players competing in both events. There are currently 19 of them, including defending Open champion Louis Oosthuizen. Last year's John Deere Classic produced phenomenal scoring. It was kicked off by Paul Goydos firing the fourth 59 in the history of the PGA Tour in round one. Amazingly, at 12-under-par for 18 holes, Goydos only held a one-stroke lead. Steve Stricker managed a 60 then followed it up with rounds of 66 and 62 to complete 54 holes in a staggering 25-under-par. Stricker held on to win the event by two shots, it was the second straight year he lofted the trophy.

Venue: TPC Deere Run, Illinois Date: Jul 7 - 10 Course stats: par 71, 7,257 yards Purse: $4,500,000 Winner: $792,000 Defending Champion: Steve Stricker (-26)

TV Coverage: Thursday 7 - Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8pm Friday 8 - Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm Saturday 9 - Live on Sky Sports 3 from 11pm (red button from 8pm) Sunday 10 - Live on Sky Sports 1 from 11pm (red button from 8pm)

Player Watch: Steve Stricker - It's hard to look past the champion here for the last two seasons. He dominated the course last year finishing on 26-under-par. He's on solid current form to boot, with top 20 finishes in his last seven starts.

Jason Day - The young Australian is up to seventh on the Official World Golf Ranking, having finished runner-up in both The Masters and the US Open. He's played well on this course in the past and will be looking to peak in time for the Open Championship to continue his Major run.

Zach Johnson - He's threatening to return to his best form and he has a decent record in this event. He's one of the straightest hitters on the circuit and currently the best at getting it close from 100 yards out. If he can get a few putts to drop, he could be up there at the end of the week. Key hole: 16th. A par 3 of just 158 yards, it's all carry to a bluff sitting 40 feet above the Rock River. The front of the putting surface is guarded by a shale outcropping and a large bunker.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?