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PGA Tour preview: John Deere Classic

Preview — PGA Tour — John Deere Classic — TPC Deere Run — Silvis, Illinois –

The PGA Tour hosts the John Deere Classic this week in Illinois at TPC Deere Run with World No. 2 Jordan Spieth in the field.

Spieth comes into the week with three victories in 2015 including the first two major championships – the Masters and U.S. Open. With the Open Championship next week in Scotland, this is the last chance to prepare for the season’s third major.

Spieth made this event his maiden PGA Tour triumph in 2013, beating David Hearn in a playoff. Spieth’s memorable hole-out from the greenside bunker served as his “break-out” shot. Hearn is also in the field this week after losing in a playoff last week at The Greenbrier Classic.

Although the highest-ranked player in the field, Spieth should have some competition this week from the likes of Zach Johnson, who has had played well here in the past and Steve Stricker, who won this tournament three straight years from 2009 to 2011.

Low scores are a must at TPC Deere Run. The par-71 layout reaches more than 7,200 yards and like most TPC tracks features large greens. Four rounds in the 60s certainly lock up even a Top 10 finish here.

The field also features last week’s champ Danny Lee, Kevin Kisner (who has three playoff losses this season), Ryan Moore and Justin Thomas, searching for his maiden PGA Tour title.

Television coverage includes The Golf Channel for Thursday and Friday action and CBS Sports for the weekend.

2014 Recap:

  • Brian Harman (22-under) broke through for his first PGA Tour win edging Johnson by a shot. Jhonattan Vegas and Jerry Kelly were T-3 with Tim Clark, while Spieth and Moore finished T-7.

FANTASY: Fairways, greens and birdies are a must at TPC Deere Rune. Take traditional powers here — Zach, Stricker and Spieth seem to contend at TPC DeereStricker should contend along with Johnson. Zach has Top 3 finishes in five of his last six appearances here. We like Sean O’Hair in this spot. He contended last week. He lost in a playoff to Spieth on the Florida Swing. Consider Kisner with this recent trend along with Robert Streb, another a playoff victim last week in West Virginia.

BETTING: Spieth comes in a heavy betting favorite at www.skybet.com as a 3 1/2-to-1 pick. Solid here, but his mind could be racing into Scotland’s Old Course for the Open. Look for Moore at 25-1 to make a run this week in this spot. He was T-7 last year at TPC Deere Run. For a long shot, consider Jonathan Byrd at 150-1. Byrd was in the mix for a bit last week and won here in 2007. Take Hearn, who is attractive at 50-1. O’Hair is also a play at 66-1.

Other Golf news:

  • Eleven of the Top 40 players in the world at teeing it up this week at the European Tour’s Scottish Open — just a week ahead of the 144th Open Championship. Notables includes defending champion Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson and Players champion Rickie Fowler. Missing is Rory McIlroy, recovering from a left ankle injury he suffered playing soccer over the weekend.
  • Rose, the top-ranked player in the field at No. 7, is the betting favorite at the Scottish Open as a 12-1 selection.
  • The USGA hosts the U.S. Women’s Open beginning Thursday at Landcaster Country Club in Pennsylvania.