SILVIS, Illinois (AFP) - American Jordan Spieth is back to defend his title at this week's John Deere Classic, the final USPGA Tour event to qualify for the British Open.
Spieth, who became the first teenager to win on the USPGA Tour since 1931 when he raised the trophy last year, will headline the field with Zach Johnson and three-time winner Steve Stricker.
"I've been anxious for another win because of how good this felt last year," said the 20-year-old Spieth. "I had a lot of close calls and I feel like I'm knocking on the door again.
"It feels awesome to be back at a place I'm very familiar with because I've played here twice before.
"So, yeah, I'm very excited to get out there and get started."
The John Deere is the final tune-up before the third Major championship of the season at Hoylake from July 17 to 20 where Phil Mickelson will try to defend his title.
A top-five finisher this week who has not already qualified will earn a spot in the British Open.
Stricker announced this week he is withdrawing from the British Open as he continues to cut back on the number of tournaments he plays each year.
The 47-year-old, who is gunning for his 13th PGA Tour win this week, also missed the British Open last season.
"It was a tough decision," he said on Wednesday. "I kept telling myself I should go, but deep down I was thinking I kind of wanted to do what I did last year and just stay home.
"I'm very encouraged with the way I've played. The results haven't been great, but the way I'm playing at home and the way I played today, I haven't hit it really any better.
"My ball flight is better. I'm hitting it straighter."
This year's tournament will be hard pressed to match the drama of last year's event when Spieth won in a play-off on the fifth extra hole.
The field will also include leading amateurs Cameron Wilson, Bobby Wyatt and Jordan Niebrugge.