The 2012 John Deere Classic tees off on Thursday from TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois, where three time defending champion Steve Stricker will start another title defense.

Stricker is a formidable opponent in this tournament. He attended the nearby University of Illinois and has won this event in each of the last three seasons, setting the course record with a (-26) 258 in 2010.

Stricker, who ranks 13th in the world, has benefited from a slightly lesser field at the Deere to get his wins. As it does every year, the John Deere falls the week before the Open Championship at Royal Lytham St. Anne.

As a result, Stricker and Zach Johnson are the only players who will tee it up this weekend who are currently ranked in the top 20 in the world.

Players like Carl Pettersson, Kyle Stanley, Mark Wilson, Ricky Barnes and Robert Garrigus, all of whom are in the top 30 in the Fed Ex Cup standings, should also be in the hunt late in the tournament.

To follow along with the action as it happens check out the live leaderboard here.

Where to Watch: The tournament will be shown beginning at 3 p.m. ET on the Golf Channel on Thursday and Friday with the broadcast switching over to CBS Saturday and Sunday.

A free Live Stream of the tournament can be found at FirstRowSports.