Spieth eyes title defense

American youngster Jordan Spieth will have an opportunity to defend a PGA Tour title for the first time in his career when the John Deere Classic starts on Thursday.

The 20-year-old’s only victory on the PGA Tour came at TPC Deere Run in 2013 when he triumphed in a three-way play-off against Zach Johnson and David Hearn after all three finished on 19-under after 72 holes.

While the now world number 10 Spieth is yet to win on the Tour since that victory in Illinois, in the 18 events this he has been runner-up twice and has six top 10 finished to his name this year.

“There are a lot of places for me to look forward to,” said Spieth, who took part in the Zach Johnson Foundation Classic at Elmcrest Country Club on Monday.
“I’m enjoying the present moment, each week, and what it presents. If I sit back and look back, maybe I get a little too caught up in it when I really need to press forward.”
Spieth will face plenty of competition for the title this year, with Johnson in particular likely to be a major threat to his crown.

The 2013 runner-up there won the tournament the previous year and was tied second in 2009 and tied third in 2011.

Johnson, though, has largely struggled for form so far this year and has missed the cut in two of his last eight events, with not a single top 10 finish to his name.

Another player who has taken a liking TPC Deere Run is Steve Stricker, who won there on three consecutive occasions – 2009 to 2011.

The veteran Stricker has, now ranked 19th, has one top 10 finish in his eight starts this year.

Other players who enter the tournament in good form are world number 22 Keegan Bradley – who tied for fourth at The Greenbrier Classic last week – and Bud Cauley – who finished level with Bradley on Sunday.