Jordan Spieth Set to Defend First PGA Title

The way Jordan Spieth’s career arc is currently going, “the 2013 John Deere Classic” might one day be a trivia answer for the question, “What was PGA legend Jordan Spieth’s first tournament victory?”

It’s hard not to like Spieth’s game, particularly given just how good he’s been in less than two years on the tour. The native Texan will finally turn 21 in three weeks, and has added to his legacy this season with a second-place finish at the Masters, a top 20 finish at the US Open and a spot in the Top 10 of both the world golf rankings and the FedEx Cup standings.

His win last year at the John Deere was a classic in his own right, defeating defending champion Zach Johnson and David Hearn in a sudden-death playoff. He was the first teenager to win a PGA event in 82 years.

He’ll tee off from No. 1 at 12:45 p.m. in the presence of Stewart Cink and Steve Stricker, showing that the John Deere organizers have a little flair for history in their pairings.

Along with Stewart Cink, the 2009 British Open winner, Spieth is paired with Steve Stricker, who won the tournament three straight years from 2009-2011, setting a tournament record with his 26-under as he utterly demolished the course by compiling a 60-66-62-70 – 258.

His 11 birdies in the first round that year are also a tournament record.

Stricker announced Monday that he will not compete in the British Open as part of his commitment to spend more time with his family. He’s played just eight events this year and has only one top 10 finish.

Played at the TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois, the John Deere Classic is a par-71 layout most famously known for giving a then-teenaged Michelle Wie an exemption to compete in 2005 and 2006.

The tournament is also unique in that, in acknowledgment to it coming directly before the third Major of the year, the Classic sponsors a charter flight for players which leaves Sunday night from Quad Cities and flies straight to the UK overnight.

Johnson, who lost the playoff last year to Spieth, has a 7:30 a.m. back nine tee time along with Russell Henley and Ryan Moore.

There are plenty of other big names in the tournament, despite its closeness to the Open, including Harris English, Rory Sabbatini, Chris Kirk, Davis Love III, and Sang-Moon Bae.

Perhaps the tournament’s biggest draw is its amazing weather.  With highs in the low 80s and lows in the upper 60s, big crowds and excellent conditions will be the norm in Silvis.

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