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TOUR Revs Up for John Deere

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2006 John Deere ClassicSILVIS, Ill. -- With the world's best golfers preparing for next week's third major, the British Open Championship, the PGA TOUR heads for its annual stop in Illinois for the John Deere Classic.
 
Talk about a place where people go for their first win. Seven of the previous 10 champions have claimed their first PGA TOUR crown at this event, which has been contested at the TPC Deere Run since 2001. Overall, 18 of the previous 35 winners picked up tour win No. 1 at this tournament.
 
Last year it was John Senden's turn. Senden got up and down from a greenside bunker on the 18th for par and the win. The par helped him fend off 2002 winner J.P. Hayes by one stroke. Hayes had a chance to grab the lead with an eagle on 17, but he could not convert and ended one back after a closing 65.
 
The last three winners -- Mark Hensby, Sean O'Hair and Senden -- all earned berths in the British Open with their wins, however Hensby declined the invitation.
 
There have been just six playoffs in the first 35 years of this event, but the 1981 playoff was an historic one. Dave Barr needed eight -- yes, eight -- extra holes to knock off Woody Blackburn to claim the title.
 
The only reason that playoff was possible was because Victor Regalado bogeyed the final two holes that create a five-way playoff with Barr, Blackburn, Regalado, Dan Halldorson and Frank Connor. The playoff featured two Americans (Blackburn and Connor), two Canadians (Halldorson and Barr) and a Mexican, Regalado.
 
Michelle Wie, who pulled out of this event last year during the second round because of heat exhaustion, withdrew from the event a month ago due to her wrist injury.
 
GOLF CHANNEL and CBS split coverage of the four rounds this week.
 
Next week is the season's third major, the British Open. Tiger Woods will defend his title at Carnoustie, while the remainder of the PGA TOUR will be at the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, where Corey Pavin won the title in '06.
 
Here are our Tour Trade 2 favorites this week, with a look at their past performances in Silvis, Ill. We also offer up a few more guys worth keeping an eye on at the John Deere Classic.
 
Zach Johnson
Starts: 5
Wins: 0
Top-10s: 0
Best finish: T20 (2004)
 
TRADE Talk: Johnson doesnt have a great record in this event, but being the reigning Masters champion, he has to be considered the overall tournament favorite. One potential problem for the major champion is the fact that this is considered his home event. This is as close as the PGA TOUR gets on an annual basis to his native Iowa, and given what hes accomplished this year, he might have plenty of distractions off the course. If he can keep his focus on it, however, he may come away with his third win of the season.
 
J.P. Hayes
Starts: 9
Wins: 1
Top-10s: 2
Best finish: Win (2002)
 
TRADE Talk: Hayes is one of only five past John Deere winners in the field this week. Many of the other champions either opted to skip this week or werent even eligible to compete without a sponsors exemption. Hayes captured this title in 2002 and is still seeking his first victory since then. He nearly got it a year ago at TPC Deere Run, shooting 65 in the final round to finish one shot back of John Senden.
 
Chris Riley
Starts: 6
Wins: 0
Top-10s: 3
Best finish: T2 (2003)
 
TRADE Talk: Despite not winning, Riley has had great success around TPC Deere Run. In a four-year run, from 2000-2003, he finished inside the top 5 on three occasions. The former Ryder Cup player has had some tough times over the last couple of years, but he might be back on track. Riley won on the Nationwide Tour opposite the U.S. Open, which should add to his confidence level this week.
 
John Senden
Starts: 5
Wins: 1
Top-10s: 1
Best finish: Win (2006)
 
TRADE Talk: Only David Frost, in 1992-93, has won this event in back-to-back years. Senden might not be a great candidate to repeat that feat, but seeing as hes one of only a handful of players in attendance this week who has actually won on this golf course, he has to be considered among the favorites. The Aussie has a couple of top-10s this year, with a tie for second in Tampa in March.
 
Carl Pettersson
Starts: 2
Wins: 0
Top-10s: 0
Best finish: T15 (2003)
 
TRADE Talk: Pettersson is affectionately known on TOUR as the Redneck Swede. That moniker alone makes him a viable contender this week at the John Deere. Pettersson started the year slowly with three missed cuts in his first four events, but has only missed one cut over his last 15 tournaments. He has bettered his results each of his last four events, earning a tie for 15th in his most recent start at the Travelers Championship.
 
Four more players to keep an eye on at TPC Deere Run:
 
Steve Marino:
Marino is a rookie on TOUR without a win, which means he would be a good candidate to get that maiden title here. Six of the last eight John Deere winners have been first-time TOUR champions. Marino has had a solid rookie season so far, collecting four top-10s and earning nearly $1 million.
 
Robert Garrigus:
Garrigus is another player one could easily image riding off on that big tractor into the sunset come Sunday. The once troubled player has his life, and his game, headed in the right direction. He was tied for third after 36 holes of last weeks AT&T National, before faltering into a tie for 30th.
 
Matt Kuchar:
Kuchar has played this event four times with mixed results. But he is coming here having rallied in Final Qualifying for a spot in next weeks Open Championship. A little confidence can go a long way, particularly in a week like this one.
 
Anthony Kim:
Kim is regarded as The Next Big Thing on TOUR. Hes just one breakthrough win from stardom, many think. Such a win could come this week against one of the weakest fields of the season.
 
Information from The Sports Network was used in this article.
 
Related Links:
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Full Coverage - John Deere Classic