The Norman Transcript

Sports

July 11, 2013

Stricker the man to beat at John Deere

SILVIS, Ill. — Steve Stricker might be the only golfer on the PGA Tour who isn’t peeking ahead to Muirfield and next week’s British Open.

Stricker’s single-minded focus on TPC Deere Run, combined with his recent dominance of the course, makes him the man to beat at this weekend’s John Deere Classic.

Stricker, 46, is playing a reduced schedule this season — and he’s skipping the Open Championship to celebrate his wedding anniversary with his wife Nicki in Wisconsin.

But Stricker won the John Deere Classic three times from 2009-11. He’s not about to pass on a shot at a fourth title just down the road in Illinois.

“I owe a lot to this place. It’s a special place for me,” Stricker said.

Stricker and Zach Johnson, who grew up about 100 miles across the Mississippi River in nearby Cedar Rapids, Iowa, are the unquestioned headliners this week.

That’s largely because most of the world’s top golfers are already concentrating in Scotland.

There’s no Tiger, Rory or Phil in this field. In fact, the only golfer ranked in the top 10 in the world that’ll play Deere Run is Louis Oosthuizen — and he’s 10th.

Just eight of the world’s top 50, including Stricker, Keegan Bradley, Nick Watney and Johnson, have committed to the tournament. But what the field lacks in star power it should make up for somewhat in depth, as nearly half of the top 100 on FedEx Cup points list will tee off on Thursday.

“It doesn’t matter where we’re playing or what the field looks like. They’re all good,” said Johnson, who also serves as an executive board member for the tournament. “If you don’t know the names, you’re going to know them at some point because they’re all too good.”

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