Former champs Johnson, Stricker grouped at Deere


While many eyes will be on golf's return to the Olympics in Rio, the PGA Tour will still be conducting a full-field event at the John Deere Classic. Here are a few marquee, early-round groups to keep an eye on in Moline, Ill., highlighted by a trio of former champions (all times ET):

9:10 a.m. Thursday, 2:20 p.m. Friday: Hunter Mahan, Camilo Villegas, Retief Goosen

Mahan has made every edition of the FedEx Cup Playoffs dating back to 2007, but that streak is in serious jeopardy as he sits at No. 179 in the points race with only two events to go. Needing a big performance, he'll play the first two rounds alongside Villegas, who skipped the Olympics in order to better his chances of retaining his card for next season, and Goosen, who is making just his second start since missing the cut at the U.S. Open.

9:20 a.m. Thursday, 2:30 p.m. Friday: Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker, Brian Harman

This group accounts for every tournament champion since 2009 outside of Jordan Spieth, who opted not to defend his title. Stricker remains the most recent player to win the same tournament three years in a row, having done so here from 2009-2011, while Johnson won in 2012 in addition to three runner-up finishes and Harman earned his lone victory to date at TPC Deere Run in 2014.

2:20 p.m. Thursday, 9:10 a.m. Friday: Billy Hurley III, Vaughn Taylor, Peter Malnati

This field includes only three players who have won on Tour this season, and all three will play the first 36 holes together. Hurley broke through for his first career victory at the Quicken Loans National, while Taylor outlasted Phil Mickelson at Pebble Beach and Malnati has missed 11 straight cuts after a surprising victory at the Sanderson Farms Championship in November.

2:30 p.m. Thursday, 9:20 a.m. Friday: Keegan Bradley, Kevin Na, Wesley Bryan

Bradley is one of five major champions in this week's field, and he enters off a T-25 finish at Travelers. He'll be joined by Na, who at No. 34 is ranked behind only Johnson among those teeing it up in Moline. Bryan will round out the trio, one week after earning his third Tour win of the year to secure an immediate promotion to the PGA Tour.