Deere Diary

The PGA Tour heads to the Quad Cities this week for the John Deere Classic. It's the last chance for players to earn a spot in next week's Open Championship; the top finisher not otherwise exempt will earn a spot in the field. Fan-favorite and Iowan Zach Johnson headlines the field, which includes Kevin Kisner and Daniel Berger. Full field and tee times

Last year

Ryan Moore kicked off a dominant run of golf winning by two shots over Ben Martin.  Moore backed up his win with three top-10 finishes in the FedExCup Playoffs to earn a spot on the Ryder Cup team.

The course

Designed by D.A. Weibring, TPC Deere Run is one of the best TPC stops of the year. The par-71 7,248 yard layout rewards all-around play and generally delivers excitement on its closing stretch. One hole to watch is the risk/reward short par four 14th.  The 361-yard hole offers an eagle or birdie chance but can yield a high score with a wayward drive.

The 14th kicks off an exciting closing stretch of holes, which includes two brawny par 4’s (15&18), a short par 3 (16) and a reachable par 5 (17).

Storylines to watch

Strick and ZJ
Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson have enjoyed a dominant stretch at the John Deere. Stricker won three straight titles from 2009-2011 and heads up a strong University of Illinois contingent. Zach Johnson serves on the tournament's board and won the event in 2012. To go along with the win, Johnson also has three runner-up finishes at the event.

The sponsor's exemptions
Unlike most events, the John Deere has a sound sponsor's exemption strategy. Rather than handing out sponsor exemptions to local celebrities, the John Deere focuses on identifying future stars. This year's crop includes a mix of high profile amateurs and young pros seeking status on tour.  Headlining the amateurs are University of Illinois stars Nick Hardy and Dylan Meyer. The pair will have a great deal of fan support from their alma mater.

Another amateur to watch is former Stanford standout Maverick McNealy. The recent graduate will likely turn professional after the September Walker Cup matches. It will be McNealy's second start in a professional tournament after missing the cut at the U.S. Open.

The young professionals who received invites are Curtis Luck and Wyndham Clark.  Luck comes in hot off of his top-five finish at the Quicken Loans and a T20 at last week's Greenbrier Classic.

The long-hitting Wyndham Clark will play in his third of seven sponsor exemptions. He will look to continue his trend upward; after missing the cut at the Travelers, Clark made the cut at the Quicken Loans.

Earning a spot
Former Florida star Sam Horsfield is another young player to watch. Horsfield earned a spot in the field via the Monday Qualifier.  The 20-year-old will make his third PGA Tour start of 2017 and look to make his first cut as a professional.

Paulie's Picks

It's the final tuneup before The Open and the field is filled with a few uncommon names. Here's who Paulie likes for all formats.

Prep work

The European Tour heads to Dundonald Links for the Scottish Open. The field is littered with American players looking to get in some valuable links golf prep ahead of next week's Open Championship. Headlining the field are Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson and Adam Scott.

The third major

The women are in New Jersey at Trump National for the U.S. Women's Open.Ryu So-yeon and Danielle Kang took home the first two majors of the season, leaving Lydia Ko and Ariya Jutanugarn majorless.  These two will seek their first major of the season and a chance to retake the number one spot in the world.

Quick hooks

The Web Tour heads to Utah.

Tony Dear dives into why Chambers Bay will likely receive another U.S. Open.

Featured Tweet