John Deere Classic 2012 Preview: Steve Stricker Seeks 4th Straight Victory At Deere Run

SILVIS IL - JULY 11: A miniature John Deere tractor is used as a tee marker at the 7th hole during the final round of the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run on July 11 2010 in Silvis Illinois. (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)

Steve Stricker has won the last three John Deere Classics. On Thursday, he begins his quest for a fourth straight title at Deere Run.

The 2012 John Deere Classic begins on Thursday with three-time defending champion Steve Stricker looking for his fourth straight victory at TPC Deere Run. In 2010, Stricker set the four-round course record for the tournament when he finished at a 26-under 258. Last year, he fell four strokes short of tying his record and finished at 22-under, which tied him with J.P. Hayes (2002) for the second-best finish at Deere Run.

Stricker enters this tournament as the world's No. 13-ranked golfer, the highest-placed golfer in Silvis, Ill. Zach Johnson, ranked No. 17, is also playing in this tournament. Both are in the top 20 of the FedEx Cup standings, too. Stricker enters this tournament having shot 8-under at the Greenbrier last week while Johnson has been off for a few weeks since the Travelers Championship.

Here are some notable groupings for the first two days of the tournament (full pairings here):

Steve Stricker, Kyle Stanley, Camilo Villegas - Stricker and Stanley together in the same group is no coincidence. Stricker beat Stanley on the final hole of the tournament with a birdie putt.

Ted Potter Jr., Zach Johnson, Nick Watney - Johnson is one of the top golfers in the world while Potter is coming off his victory at Greenbrier. Watney shot 2-under at the AT&T National at the start of July, ending a streak of four tournaments in which he shot over-par.

There will also be other past winners participating: Jonathan Byrd (2007), John Senden (2006), Sean O'Hair (2005) and David Toms (1997).

For more on the John Deere Classic and the PGA Tour, stick with SB Nation Golf.

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