Steve Stricker guns for his fourth win in five years at TPC Deere Run. (Cohen/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
TPC Deere Run, 7,268 yards, par 71. Built on the site of a long-ago tribal village and Arabian horse farm, D.A. Weibring’s 1999 design makes skilled use of rolling woodlands alongside the Rock River. Dramatic elevation changes frame several holes, notably the downhill 14th that measures 358 yards but can be drivable in the right conditions. Typically a place that yields low scores, Deere Run got a place in the history books three years ago when Paul Goydos carded just the fourth 59 recorded on the PGA TOUR. Eventual winner Steve Stricker shot 60 that day when his approach shot narrowly missed going in on the 18th hole.
• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.
• CHARITY: Some 500 Quad Cities organizations receive money from the John Deere Classic’s “Birdies for Charity” program, which raised $6.79 million during last year’s tournament. The amount ranked No. 5 in total charitable donations on the PGA TOUR in 2012.
• FIELD WATCH: Defending champion Zach Johnson and three-time winner Steve Stricker headline a lineup that includes six of the top 30 players in this week’s world rankings. No. 10 Louis Oosthuizen stands as the highest ranked participant ... Keegan Bradley, currently 11th in FedExCup points, makes his first appearance at Deere Run. He’s still seeking his first win of 2013 ... Former British Open winners David Duval and Todd Hamilton will tee it up on sponsor exemptions, prepping for their past-champion entries at Muirfield ... College stars Justin Thomas (Alabama) and Patrick Rodgers (Stanford) also are in on exemptions.
• 72-HOLE RECORD: 258, Steve Stricker (2010).
• 18-HOLE RECORD: 59, Paul Goydos (1st round, 2010).
• LAST YEAR: Johnson finally won his home-area event, forcing a playoff with birdies on three of his last six holes before dispatching Troy Matteson with another on the second extra hole. Johnson overcame a four-shot deficit with a 7-under-par 64, moving in front briefly until Matteson’s eagle at No. 17 set up the playoff. Both men took double-bogey 6s after hitting into the water on the first extra hole, before Johnson stiffed a 6-iron from 193 yards for the winning birdie. Stricker, seeking to become just the fifth man to win four consecutive years at the same tournament, was in the running until dropping back with bogeys at Nos. 15-16. He finished four shots back.
• STORYLINES: Alongside his title defense, Johnson also arrives with a streak of 16 consecutive rounds in the 60s at Deere Run. Of his 38 career rounds on the course, he’s failed to break 70 just five times. … Steve Stricker will be seeking a fourth John Deere crown in a five-year span. His trio of trophies from 2009-11 remains the last time someone has won a PGA TOUR event in three consecutive years. … A victory at Deere Run also brings a British Open berth, if the winner hasn’t already qualified for the year’s third major.
• SHORT CHIPS: A total of 22 entrants at Deere Run also have qualified for next week’s British Open lineup. A charter flight awaits them Sunday night, provided by John Deere Classic officials each year to fly them across the Atlantic ... Stricker is one of just five men to win the John Deere Classic more than once in its 42-year existence. Weibring also captured three titles, with two each by Deane Beman, Scott Hoch and David Frost ... Before Stricker’s run, five of the previous nine Deere champions made it their first PGA TOUR win – Michael Clark II (2000), David Gossett (’01), Mark Hensby (’04), Sean O’Hair (’05) and John Senden (’06).
• TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 3-6 p.m. (CBS).
• RADIO: Thursday-Sunday, noon-6 p.m. ET (SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio).