Deere Illini ...
This week’s field at the John Deere Classic includes five Illinois products — and a day designed for fans to show their colors. Here’s what you need to know about the 72-hole tournament at TPC Deere Run:
Former Illini teeing off Thursday include Steve Stricker, D.A. Points, Joe Affrunti, Scott Langley and Luke Guthrie. Stricker saw his amazing run of three consecutive Deere championships come to an end last summer, the veteran finishing in a tie for fifth with Guthrie.
Illini Day is Friday, the school setting up a tent behind the seventh green as a hub for fans dressed in orange and blue. Among the guests scheduled to appear: Golf coach Mike Small, defensive line coach Greg Colby and athletic director Mike Thomas.
Eight of the world’s top 50 players are playing, including Stricker (11th. The others: Louis Oosthuizen (10), Keegan Bradley (16), Nick Watney (27), Zach Johnson (31), Kevin Streelman (37), Ryan Moore (44) and Carl Pettersson (45). Of the FedEx Cup point lists’ top 100, 48 are in the field.
Golf Channel will carry the first two rounds before handing off to CBS on Saturday and Sunday. The News-Gazette’s lineup includes each Illini’s chances (Wednesday), Small's take (Thursday) and our profile of Luke Guthrie, a PGA rookie and soon-to-be-millionaire (Sunday).