Shotgun Start: Previewing the John Deere Classic

Jonathan Wall

It's tournament time! The PGA Tour heads to TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois for the Steve Stricker Classic John Deere Classic, the last tune-up before the Open Championship. Here's a tournament primer to get you prepared for the week.

The course: It's all about birdies and eagles this week at TPC Deere Run. The par 71 layout (7,258 yards) was ranked as the 40th most difficult (out of 51) on the PGA Tour last season, and since it took over as the site of the John Deere Classic in 2000, all 12 winners have posted at least at least 16-under for the week. When a course is that easy, just hitting the green -- something the field did at a 70-plus percent clip last seasons -- isn't enough. You need to fire at every pin and hope a majority of your putts drop. Going extremely low for one round, however, isn't always enough. In 2010, Paul Goydos shot 12-under 59 in the first round but still managed to finish in second place.

Most courses on tour cater to a certain type of golfer (accurate off the tee or an above-average putter), but this week, pretty much anyone in the field has a chance to win. With relatively wide fairways and generous greens, TPC Deere Run should once again be a birdie haven for the best golfers in the world.

[Video: Rory McIlroy hits soccer goal crossbar from 150 yards away]

The schedule: The tournament runs Thursday-Sunday. It'll be broadcast on the Golf Channel from 3 to 6 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday; and on CBS from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The field: Most of the top names in the sport are teeing it up at the Scottish Open or taking the week off before the Open Championship, but there are a couple marquee names in the field. Steve Stricker (who's going for his fourth straight John Deere Classic title) and Zach Johnson are the only members of the OWGR top-20 at TPC Deere Run; other notables include John Daly, Ryan Moore, Carl Pettersson, Kyle Stanley and Mark Wilson.

The video: Check out some of the memorable moments from the John Deere Classic's history.

Your turn. Who are your picks for this week? Swing away!

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