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Steve Stricker going for his fourth straight John Deere title

Winning same tournament four years row would put Steve Stricker some elite company namely Tiger Woods Gene Sarazen. | Paul

Winning the same tournament four years in a row would put Steve Stricker in some elite company, namely Tiger Woods and Gene Sarazen. | Paul Colletti~AP

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John Deere Classic

Course: TPC Deere Run, Silvis, Ill., 7,257 yards, par 71.

Tickets: $28 for adults, reduced prices for children and seniors. Details available at

TV: Golf Channel,
2-5 p.m. Thursday and Friday; Ch. 2, 2-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Updated: August 13, 2012 2:04PM

Steve Stricker won’t be thinking about history when he tries to become the second player in more than 80 years to win a tournament four consecutive times.

That’s because when Stricker tees it up Thursday in the first round of the John Deere Classic, he realizes he’ll be starting from scratch. Winning the last three years at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill., won’t
matter against a field that has depth, even if it’s not glamorous.

‘‘I know it’s going to be difficult,’’ Stricker said after a practice round Wednesday. ‘‘I know it’s going to be a big challenge, but I’m excited about trying to do it.’’

At least Stricker, 45, has some things going for him. His come-from-behind thriller last year, in which he made a dramatic 18th-hole birdie, will be a confidence-builder as he tries to join Tiger Woods, the only player who has won a tournament four consecutive times since Gene Sarazen won the Miami Open in 1930. Woods has done it twice — at Bay Hill in 2000-03 and San Diego in 2005-08.

The Wisconsin native and former University of Illinois star also should be bolstered by a vocal gallery.

‘‘It’s always fun to come here,’’ Stricker said. ‘‘I get a lot of support here, friends from home and University of Illinois people. It’s truly a home game for me.’’

Stricker has become such a legend that the Quad Cities River Bandits minor-league baseball team held a Steve Stricker Bobblehead Night last Saturday.

‘‘I’ve signed quite a few,’’ said Stricker, who’ll be joined by other Illini in the John Deere field.

Illini golf coach Mike Small, Stricker’s good friend and former teammate, will play. So will Illini senior Luke Guthrie, the 2012 Big Ten player of the year, and Illini alum D.A. Points, who won at Pebble Beach in 2011.

Also in the field will be major champions John Daly (who’s coming off a strong finish at the Greenbrier Classic), David Duval, Lee Janzen, Stewart Cink, Zach Johnson, Shaun Micheel, Todd Hamilton and Y.E. Yang; Illinois golfers Kevin Streelman and Mark Wilson; and veterans such as Stuart Appleby, Chris DiMarco, Rocco Mediate, Jerry Kelly, Jeff Maggert, K.J. Choi and Kyle Stanley, the runner-up last year.

Amateur stars Jordan Spieth, the low amateur at the U.S. Open, and Patrick Rodgers also will play.

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