Planet Golf — 06 July 2015 by GW staff and news services
Up Next in the PGA: John Deere Open

 COURSE: TPC Deere Run, 7,268 yards, par 71. Built on the site of a long-ago tribal village that later housed an Arabian horse-breeding operation, D.A. Weibring’s 1999 design features breathtaking views in the rolling woodlands alongside the Rock River. Dramatic elevation changes frame several holes, notably the downhill 14th that measures 358 yards but can be set up as a drivable par-4. Typically a place that yields low scores, Deere Run carved its place in the record book five years ago when Paul Goydos carded just the fourth 59 recorded on the PGA Tour. Eventual winner Steve Stricker shot 60 that day.

• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.

• CHARITY: More than 500 Quad Cities organizations receive donations from the John Deere Classic’s “Badges for Charity” program, which raised $6.3 million during last year’s edition. The tournament annually ranks No.1 in charity donations per capita on the PGA Tour.

• FIELD WATCH: Jordan Spieth, just the sixth man to win the Masters and U.S. Open in the same year, tops the marquee along with Iowa native and 2012 champion Zach Johnson. … Recent winners Fabian Gomez (FedEx St. Jude) and Steven Bowditch (AT&T Byron Nelson) also are among seven of this season’s champions to commit to Deere Run. … Stricker, a three-time John Deere winner, makes just his seventh start of 2015 in his return from back surgery. … Reigning NCAA champion Bryson DeChambeau (SMU) will tee it up on a sponsor invite, along with fellow college standouts Lee McCoy (Georgia) and Brian Campbell (Illinois).

• 72-HOLE RECORD: 258, Steve Stricker (2010).

• 18-HOLE RECORD: 59, Paul Goydos (1st round, 2010).

• LAST YEAR: Brian Harman captured his first PGA Tour crown, using three consecutive birdies down the stretch to pull away from Zach Johnson’s surge with a 5-under 66. A string of three birdies in five holes lifted Johnson into a tie as Harman approached the 14th tee, where the Georgia pro drove into a greenside bunker at the short par-4 and drained a 14-foot birdie putt. Additional birdies at Nos.15 and 16 re-established a two-shot cushion, where a closing bogey didn’t hurt him. Johnson’s 64 was the best round of the day, giving him a second runner-up finish to go with his 2012 triumph – when Harman happened to be his playing partner. Spieth (66) finished seventh in his first title defense.

• STORYLINES: Spieth, last seen trying to fully grasp his dramatic win at Chambers Bay, returns to the site of his first PGA Tour win for his only tuneup before heading to St. Andrews for next week’s Open Championship. … Johnson, a Cedar Rapids native and JDC board member, has finished outside the top three just once in his past six visits, during which he has gone a combined 105-under par and all 24 rounds have been in the 60s. He also was runner-up in 2009 and shared third in 2011. … Stricker takes another shot at becoming the Classic’s first four-time winner. His run from 2009-11 remains the last time anyone has won a PGA TOUR event in three consecutive years. … The final Open Championship berth next week awaits the highest top-5 finisher who hasn’t already punched his ticket to St. Andrews.

• SHORT CHIPS: A total of 15 entrants at Deere Run already have qualified for next week’s Open Championship lineup. A charter flight awaits them Sunday night, provided by Deere Classic officials each year to fly them across the Atlantic. … Stricker and Campbell are among five University of Illinois alumni in the field, joined by D.A. Points, Scott Langley and Luke Guthrie. … Actor Bill Murray is a surprise addition to Wednesday’s pro-am lineup, reuniting with Points for a day at Deere Run. The duo won the team competition at the 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, with Points also winning the individual crown.

• TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 4-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS).

• RADIO: Thursday-Friday, 1-7 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 1-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).

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