Zach Johnson all set to batter John Deere Classic field

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There will be an added motivation driving the competitors of the John Deere Classic, aside from the will to win and the $846,000 winner’s prize, as the top finisher (not already exempt) will qualify for The Open Championship later in the month.

As a course that promotes low-scoring, the TPC Deere Run should allow those seeking a spot in the British major to be aggressive in trying to secure themselves entry to Royal Liverpool.

Zach Johnson doesn’t have to worry about his ticket to Merseyside, as it’s already booked, but the American cuts a daunting figure for the rest of the field given his record at the par 71 course.

John Deere Classic champion in 2012, Johnson also has recent finishes of solo and tied second in 2013 and 2009 respectively in the tournament, as well as a tied third in 2011.

Last year the course ranked as the third-easiest par 71 set of 18 holes on the PGA Tour and the 12/1-shot for this year’s title has been quite happy tearing it apart over his recent visits.

In his last 20 rounds at TPC Deere Run Johnson’s scoring average has been 66.80. That average adds up to a four-round total of 264, which would have been good enough to win nine of the last 11 editions of this event.

As an outside, each-way bet, the 33/1 on Chris Stroud looks the pick of the bunch, who arrives in Illinois off the back of an encouraging tied-fourth finish at last week’s Greenbrier Classic.

A place in the top five at the John Deere will force Ladbrokes to pay out on each-way punts on the 32-year-old, and he’s already obliged his followers with top-five finishes three times this season.

A slightly further afield selection is Billy Hurley III at 50s, who has been T8 and T4 in his last two starts and shared eighth place here in 2012.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.