The PGA Tour heads to Illinois this week for the John Deere Classic. Steve Stricker defends the title and there’s a final chance for someone to secure a spot in the Open Championship.

The course at TPC Deere run in Illinois was designed by D.A Weibring in 1999 but it was remodelled by the PGA Tour in 2007. It has been host to the John Deere Classic since 2000. The course is located near the Rock River and the valley it creates affects a number of holes here.

It may not be the most significant event on the PGA Tour schedule in terms of prize money or Fed-Ex Cup points, but there’s a Major incentive on offer. The winner of the tournament, or first player in the top-5 not already exempt, will receive a spot in the Open Championship at St Andrews. Last year Brett Quigley qualified through this tournament but he declined his invitation to Turnberry to attend the memorial service for the wife of fellow professional Chris Smith.

Steve Stricker secured victory at TPC Deere Run in 2009 largely thanks to his awesome second round of 61 – 10 shots better than the total he managed in round one. Zach Johnson fought his way back into contention with a third round of 64 but Stricker closed the door on the field when he finished with a 64. Both Stricker and Johnson will play again this season.

Venue: TPC Deere Run, Illinois
Date: Jul 8-11
Course stats: par 71, 7,257 yards
Purse: $4,400,000 Winner: $792,000
Defending Champion: Steve Stricker (-20)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 8 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm
Friday 2 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm
Saturday 3 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm
Sunday 4 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm

Player Watch:
Jeff Overton – He’s on good form after third last week and three more top three finishes in his last eight events. Look for him to feature here.
Zach Johnson – Tied second in this event last year, it’s about time Johnson popped up and claimed a win.
Tim Clark – The accurate South African should cope well with this course. He’s already won this year at The Players Championship and was a respectable tied 12th at the US Open.

Key hole: 16th. A par 3 of just 158 yards, it’s all carry to a bluff sitting 40 feet above the Rock River. The front of the putting surface is guarded by a shale outcropping and a large bunker.

Skills required: Accuracy. Keep it on the course here and low scoring is possible. Miss the narrow fairways and it won’t be so easy.