John Deere Classic Jordan Spieth heads the field

With Rory McIlroy set to miss The Open next week, Jordan Spieth heads the John Deere Classic field looking to fine tune for St Andrews.

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Jordan Spieth heads the field play

Jordan Spieth heads the field

(Omni Sports)
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With Jordan Spieth's Open chances potentially set to be boosted by Rory McIlroy's expected injury-enforced withdrawal, the reigning Masters and U.S. Open champion heads to the John Deere Classic in search of momentum.

Open champion McIlroy is unlikely to defend his title at St Andrews next week, having revealed on Monday that he ruptured ankle ligaments while playing football.

Though the Northern Irishman has not ruled himself out of the third major of the year, he has been given just a "10 per cent" chance of making it.

His absence would leave the red-hot Spieth a clear favourite in Scotland and the TPC Deere Run, perhaps the PGA Tour's most player-friendly course, is likely to provide the perfect platform to build confidence in his sole outing between Chambers Bay and St Andrews.

The course yielded the most eagles (56) and birdies (1,844) of any in 2013-14 and played as the second easiest par 71 in 2014.

Spieth is a former Deere Run winner, but it had been suggested he may skip the event to focus on The Open.

However, the world number two is determined to play himself into form in Illinois.

"I don't think I'm here strictly because I'm honouring a commitment," he said.

"If I thought I wasn't going to play well next week because I played here, it would be a different story. I probably wouldn't be here.

"I think that this is good preparation for me to get good feels, to get in contention.

"I'm here because I think I can win this week. I believe that it is advantageous for me to try and win this week and to get any kind of momentum I can going into The Open Championship."

Two men in particular in the field could be set to be Spieth's main challengers, given their historical success around the Deere Run.

Zach Johnson was winner in 2012 and has finished as runner-up the two years since, while Steve Stricker could also be an outside bet.

Stricker won three consecutive Classics between 2009 and 2011 and, though he is without a top-10 to his name since last year's PGA Championship, a return to happy hunting grounds could inspire success.

Last year's champion Brian Harman has struggled for large parts of 2015, but comes into this tournament off the back of a third-placed finish at the Travelers Championship.

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