Thomas, Thompson tied at Deere; Spieth struggles

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Scores are almost always low at the John Deere Classic, and Thursday's opening round was no exception. Here's how things look at TPC Deer Run, where two players in search of a breakthrough win share the lead:

Leaderboard: Justin Thomas (-8), Nicholas Thompson (-8), Luke Guthrie (-7), Charles Howell III (-7), Steve Stricker (-6), Daniel Summerhays (-6), Robert Garrigus (-6), Shawn Stefani (-6)

What it means: Thomas contended deep into the final round last week at The Greenbrier, and he is again atop the standings after an opening round that included 10 birdies. He was joined late in the day by Thompson, while local product Guthrie and Stricker, a three-time champ, lurk just a few shots off the pace.

Round of the day: Thomas led with 10 holes to go last week before stumbling down the stretch, but he was quick to rebound. He had two different stretches of five birdies across six holes, closing out with four straight circles on Nos. 5-8 before a par on No. 9, just his sixth par of the day. 

Best of the rest: Thompson only has one top-10 finish this season, but he is an early contender after matching Thomas' total of 8-under 63. Thompson had only one bogey and countered with seven birdies and an eagle on the par-4 14th after holing a wedge approach.

Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth headlined the field this week in Silvis, but the former champ stalled out with an even-par 71. While the leaderboard was full of red figures, Spieth carded only three birdies and sits outside the projected cut line heading into the second round. 

Main storyline heading into Friday: There will be plenty more birdies to come, but the player to watch right now is Thomas. After contending on several occasions this season, the rookie is again out in front and appears to be on the verge of his maiden victory, even if it doesn't come this week. Stricker and Zach Johnson (66) are two veterans very familiar with TPC Deer Run who likely won't go away anytime soon.

Shot of the day: Thompson had only 81 yards left for his approach to No. 14, but he holed the wedge for an unexpected eagle. That followed a birdie on No. 13 and served as the highlight of a back-nine 31.

Quote of the day: "This is pretty satisfying, especially considering how I finished last week." - Thomas