It might not have the strongest field but the John Deere Classic all too often punches above its weight in terms of PGA Tour interest.
It was at this tournament – then known as the Quad Cities Classic – that Tiger Woods first held a 54-hole lead as a professional. (He eventually finished T5 behind Ed Fiori).
It was here that Jordan Spieth announced his arrival as a force to be reckoned with courtesy of an improbable holed bunker shot and a play-off win over Zach Johnson and David Hearn.
And it was also here that Bryson DeChambeau proved his somewhat unorthodox approach to the game could pay off with a maiden PGA Tour victory.
With three Open Championship spots on offer this week expect the John Deere to again provide entertainment and, most likely, an unlikely storyline.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: 2009 U.S. Open champion LUCAS GLOVER broke a 10 year victory drought with a stunning finish at TPC Deere Run in 2021.
Five birdies in his last seven holes saw Glover leapfrog a number of players and grab the clubhouse lead at 19-under, Kevin Na and Ryan Moore ultimately sharing second two shots further back.
RIGHT: Lucas Glover got back in the winners' circle last year at TPC Deere Run. PHOTO: Andy Lyons/Getty Images.
It was Moore’s fourth Tour victory.
COURSE: TPC Deere Run has a strong PGA Tour vibe, not only owned by the organisation but designed by one of its former players.
D A Weibring was a three-time winner of the tournament over a 16 year period and was approached by the Tour in 1999 to design a course as perpetual host.
Since it opened in 2000 it has played host to this event and while not among the world’s great courses does offer something many PGA Tour venues don’t: short grass around greens.
In modern professional golf there is a heavy reliance on thick grass bordering fairways and greens to try to increase the difficulty of the game.
With players unable to control the contact between club and ball, the thinking is that it creates more difficulty.
However, cleverly designed greens with short grass run off areas show time and again they provide much more challenge to the proficient player because they bring into play decision making.
Give a Tour professional a clean lie and he or she immediately thinks anything is possible. And while that may be true, the flip side is that with choice comes doubt; the golfer’s greatest enemy.
For that reason, the John Deere is always interesting to watch despite not boasting the strongest field and it will be so again this week.
Low scoring is a feature of this event. Paul Goydos shot 59 here in 2010 and the highest winning total since 2000 has been 16-under-par.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: With so many of the game’s biggest names resting ahead of The Open in two weeks’ time it is a real opportunity for some of the Tour’s lesser lights to shine.
According to the PGA Tour’s own coverage, “PLAYERS Championship winners Jason Day and Webb Simpson headline the field …” which is hardly a ringing endorsement.
However, there are no bad players at this level and while the names may not be high profile the golf will still be of a standard unrecognisable to the club player.
Watch out for South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout who has quietly played some decent golf while finding his way in his rookie season.
RIGHT: Past champion Mark Hensby arrives fresh off a third place at the U.S. Senior Open. PHOTO: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images.
Yet to produce a top-10 this year, he is a three-time DP World Tour winner and will like the course this week.
Bezuidenhout strikes as one of those players who needs one really good week to find his confidence and more good results will follow. This could be that week.
Fellow South African Dylan Frittelli is a former winner here and while he is having a less than stellar year some good memories might spark some better form this week.
Last week’s nearly man Sahith Theegala will have plenty of crowd support this week and is not without a chance given his form this year.
He was excellent aside from his 72nd hole errors and his confidence won’t have taken much of a hit courtesy of one poor shot.
72-HOLE RECORD: 257 (-27, Michael Kim, 2018)
18-HOLE RECORD: 59 (Paul Goydos, 2010)
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Mark Hensby (2004), John Senden (2006)
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Brett Drewitt, Cameron Davis, Jason Day, Aaron Baddeley, Cameron Percy, Greg Chalmers, John Senden and Mark Hensby.
Round 1: Friday (Fox Sports 503 5am – 8am)
Round 2: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 5am – 8am)
Round 3: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 3am – 8am)
Round 4: Monday (Fox Sports 503 3am – 8am)
*AEST, check local guides