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Jul 3, 2024 4:52 pm

Jordan Spieth hunts for form at ‘second home’ TPC Deere Run

Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth remembers being the kid who won the John Deere Classic just before his 20th birthday. Sometimes he tries to tap back into that part of his life, a rookie year where he swung carefree and let his talent take him where he was going.

The two-time tournament champion is back at the John Deere Classic — beginning Thursday in Silvis, Ill. — where he’ll be the star of the show while at the same time searching for his old form.

“It really does feel like a second home,” Spieth said of TPC Deere Run and the surrounding area. “It’s been really, really cool kind of the reception I received since coming back just one day at Zach Johnson’s charity event and then a couple days here at the golf course.

“I don’t have support like this anywhere outside of (his native Dallas-Fort Worth area), so hopefully that continues this week and I can pick up where I left off.”

Spieth made history in 2013 by winning the John Deere as a 19-year-old. He placed seventh the next year and won it again in 2015. But this is his first time back at the tournament since then. Its place on the PGA Tour schedule right before the Scottish Open and Open Championship does it no favors in terms of attracting an elite field.

“I wasn’t expecting the people to be like, ‘Why haven’t you’ve been back?'” Spieth said. “All I am hearing is, ‘Man, we’re so glad you’re here.'”

The feeling is mutual. Spieth comes to the par-71, 7,289-yard TPC Deere Run a mere 59th place in the FedEx Cup standings, amid a stretch of poor results. Starting with the Masters in mid-April, he’s missed three of nine cuts and finished no better than T29.

“This year has been a bit frustrating because I feel like I’ve been a better player than any of the previous few years,” Spieth said. “I just haven’t produced the results yet, had it all come together. It’s been a patience test this year, but it’s a better place than kind of having no idea what to do, where I’ve lived before.”

The tournament is an opportunity for youngsters to make their mark early in their PGA Tour careers. Bryson DeChambeau was 23 in 2017 when he made the John Deere his first win on tour. The next year, Michael Kim set the tournament scoring record of 27-under 257 in his only PGA Tour win to date.

Australian Jason Day made his PGA Tour debut at the 2006 John Deere. Like Spieth, the former phenom is back for the first time in a long time, making his first start here since 2011.

“Me personally, I’m looking to try and find the good play that I had at the start of the year and try and replicate that through my end part of my year,” Day said.

Young prospects to watch out for this week include amateur Luke Clanton, who tied for 10th at last week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic; Neal Shipley, the low amateur at the Masters and U.S. Open who has since turned pro and tied for 20th last week; and Michael Thorbjornsen, who recently turned pro after finishing first in the PGA Tour University standings.

The defending champion is Sepp Straka of Austria, who used a strong summer of 2023 to propel himself onto the European Ryder Cup team. Straka rallied from a 2-over 73 in his opening round by shooting 63, 65 and 62 the rest of the way.

“Yeah, last year first round was terrible,” Straka said. “Putted awful. Hit the ball OK, but just putted so bad. Then had a putting tweak and just got hot. Ironically, my putting hasn’t been as good as I’ve wanted this year, so maybe this place can inspire some good putting again.”

–Field Level Media

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