While most of the top players are using the Scottish Open as their final tune-up heading into next week’s Open Championship, there are still some headliners at this week’s PGA Tour stop in Silvis, Ill.
And there’s no bigger star on the John Deere Classic stage than Jordan Spieth, who is expected to be the man to beat at St. Andrews. But the rest of the field isn’t willing to hand over the trophy just yet.
The annual trip to America’s heartland brings out a number of guys from the flyover states, including three-time winner Steve Stricker and local favorite Zach Johnson.
Here's a look at the five players you'll want to keep an eye on this week.
5. Jason Bohn
Best finish in 2014-15 season: T2 at Crowne Plaza Invitational
Reason to watch: One day after making the Greenbrier Classic cut on the nose, Bohn went out and fired a 61, including 14 one-putts. If you think that's just a matter of luck, consider Bohn shot 58 on the Canadian Tour in 2001. He's a streaky guy, as evidenced by a not-so-sterling Sunday round in the final grouping. But he's been hanging around the top of the leaderboard more often in 2015, and perhaps this is the week he puts it all together.
4. Robert Streb
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Lost playoff at Greenbrier Classic
Reason to watch: How can you not root for Streb to break through this week, one week after the guy made five birdies using his sand wedge as a putter? That got him into a four-man playoff at the Greenbrier. And unfortunately, Streb never got to use the replacement putter he added to his bag, as eventual winner Danny Lee and David Hearn both sank birdie putts.
3. Zach Johnson
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Fifth at AT&T Byron Nelson
Reason to watch: According to the PGA Tour media folks, Zach has a streak of 24 consecutive rounds in the 60s at the John Deere. Even without that impressive run, you've got to love a guy playing in front of the home crowd, as it were. Johnson, a native of Iowa City and Drake alum, won this tournament in 2012, lost in a playoff to Spieth in 2013. So pretty much he's a top-five lock.
2. Steve Stricker
Best finish in 2014-15 season: T5 at CVS Health Charity Classic
Reason to watch: He's 48, and probably closer to the end of his competitive career than the start. He had to qualify for a spot in the U.S. Open field for the first time in nine seasons. But he's finally close to being healthy again after off-season back surgery. And he's won this tournament three times, all back-to-back-to-back beginning in 2009. A Wisconsin native and Badger fan, Stricker is due for a top-10 finish in Big Ten country.
1. Jordan Spieth
Best finish in 2014-15 season: Won Masters, U.S. Open
Reason to watch: Do you really need a list? He's the best player in the world not currently suffering from a ruptured ligament in his ankle. He made Zach Johnson's charity happy. He went to the Bahamas on vacation and caught a shark. Is there anything this guy can't do? Oh, and as far as his golf game goes -- his last start was in the U.S. Open, where he added a trophy to go with his green jacket from Augusta. He's also won this tournament before, defeating Johnson in a marathon, five-hole sudden death playoff two years ago. You have to like his chances.
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