Kris Blanks opened the 2011 John Deere Classic with an 8-under and made five straight birdies to end his day atop the leaderboard. But he is facing stiff competition, as there are 17 players who will be within three strokes of him when Round 2 begins on Friday morning. Steve Marino was in a position to overtake Blanks after making four straight birdies to start the back nine, but he would birdie just the 17th hole the rest of the way, finishing at 7-under.
Two-time defending champion Steve Stricker is nearby at 5-under, sinking six birdies and one bogey for a 5-under on the day. With the way the course has played so far, a two-stroke gap shouldn't be hard to make up.
TV coverage for Friday's round begins at 3:00 p.m. ET on the Golf Channel. SiriusXM Radio starts its coverage at 12: 00 p.m. ET. Here is a complete listing of tee times. Some notable ones to keep in mind:
9:00 a.m. ET - Kris Blanks leads Brandt Jobe and James Driscoll for a round at the first tee. Driscoll and Jobe are both far down on the leaderboard, but playing with the guy at the top could motivate them.
9:00 a.m. ET - At the same time, but over at the 10th tee, Steve Marino, Billy Mayfair and Will MacKenzie start their Day 2. Can Marino keep up with Blanks?
1:45 p.m. ET - Steve Stricker and Mark Wilson will play a man down after David Toms withdrew from the tournament. Wilson is just two strokes behind Blanks, Stricker one.
Here is the current top 10 leaderboard:
1. Kris Blanks -8
T2. Davis Love III -7
T2. Matt McQuillan -7
T2. Steve Marino -7
T5. Mark Wilson -6
T5. Kyle Stanley -6
T7. Charles Howell III -5
T7. Josh Teater -5
T7. Lee Janzen -5
T7. Steve Stricker -5