Steve Stricker made a fine start to his bid for an incredible fourth consecutive John Deere Classic success as he opened with a six-under-par round of 65.
The American Ryder Cup player finds himself four strokes behind early leader Troy Matteson but is in a tie for third place with Ricky Barnes the only other man ahead of him at the Deere Run course in Silvis, Illinois.
The three-time champion is a best-priced 4/1 favourite with Bet365
and winning again would enable Stricker to fly to The Open having equalled the feat achieved by Young Tom Morris at Prestwick from 1868-72 and also by Walter Hagen at the USPGA Championship, Gene Sarazen in the Miami Open and Tiger Woods at both Bay Hill and the Buick Invitational.
Stricker said: “I'm looking at it as an opportunity. It's fun. But there is pressure involved. You're trying to do it and there's a lot of expectations not only from me but from a lot of other people to do it too.
“I try to tell myself ‘I've won it three times. How the heck can I win a fourth time?’
“I'm trying to downplay it to myself. Maybe it's working. I've done that every year here. Every time I come back I'm like ‘oh, there’s no chance I can win again’."
Stricker started slowly but made a charge on the back nine. Level for the front nine and two under through 13, he eagled the par-four 14th before picking up further shots at the 15th and 17th.
Matteson holds a three-shot lead after a superb 61 containing 10 birdies and is a stand-out 12/1 with Ladbrokes
for the title, while Barnes is 28/1 at BetVictor
John Deere Classic collated first round scores (USA unless stated, par 71)
61 Troy Matteson
64 Ricky Barnes
65 Steve Stricker, Luke Guthrie, Robert Garrigus, K J Choi (Kor), Gary Christian (Eng), Brian Harman, Scott Piercy
66 Spencer Levin, Bill Lunde, Chris Di Marco, Bobby Gates, Ben Crane, Duffy Waldorf, Jimmy Walker, Tom Gillis, Tommy Biershenk, Stuart Appleby (Aus)
67 Patrick Sheehan, Martin Flores, Chris Couch, Steve Wheatcroft, Chez Reavie, Nathan Green (Aus), Dicky Pride, Hunter Haas, Patrick Rodgers, Rory Sabbatini (Rsa), John Merrick, Lee Janzen, William McGirt, Alex Cejka (Ger), J J Henry, Ted Potter, Jr., Jhonattan Vegas (Ven), Tim Clark (Rsa), Ryan Moore
68 Nick Watney, Chris Kirk, Seung-yul Noh (Kor), Charley Hoffman, Chris Riley, Ryan Palmer, Nick O'Hern (Aus), James Driscoll, Matt Bettencourt, Matthew Jones (Aus), Chad Campbell, Randall Hutchison, Troy Kelly, Y.E. Yang (Kor), Brendon De Jonge, Chris Stroud, Kyle Stanley, Erik Compton, Zach Johnson, J.J Killeen, Kevin Streelman, Billy Hurley III, D.A. Points, Jeff Maggert, Carl Pettersson (Swe), Rocco Mediate
69 Bud Cauley, Jeff Overton, Brian Gay, John Peterson, David Duval, Mathias Gronberg (Swe), Shaun Micheel, Tim Petrovic, Roland Thatcher, Boo Weekley, Shane Bertsch, Patrick Reed, Jerry Kelly, John Senden (Aus), Mark Anderson, Mark Wilson, Kevin Stadler, Tommy Gainey, Josh Teater
70 Scott Brown, Scott Dunlap, Marco Dawson, Michael Bradley, Colt Knost, Danny Lee (Nzl), Heath Slocum, Kevin Chappell, Derek Lamely, Alexandre Rocha (Bra), Richard S Johnson (Swe), Brendon Todd, Marc Turnesa, Billy Horschel, Jason Bohn, Jordan Spieth
71 Kris Blanks, Garth Mulroy (Rsa), Bart Bryant, Sung Kang (Kor), Stewart Cink, Charles Howell III, Blake Adams, Jamie Lovemark, John Daly, Joe Durant, Arjun Atwal (Ind), Matthew Every, Camilo Villegas (Col), Jason Gore
72 Kent Jones, Pat Perez, Rodney Pampling (Aus), John Hurley, Vaughn Taylor, Billy Mayfair, Woody Austin, Todd Hamilton, Sang-moon Bae (Kor), Cameron Beckman, Miguel Angel Carballo (Arg), Ken Duke, Ryuji Imada (Jpn), Jonathan Byrd, Kevin Kisner
73 Chris W. Black, Matt Mcquillan (Can), Kyle Thompson, Harrison Frazar, Charlie Beljan, Edward Loar, Mathew Goggin (Aus), Sean O'Hair, Stephen Gangluff, Richard H. Lee, Daniel Summerhays, D.J. Trahan
74 Brian Davis (Eng), Bryce Molder, Chad Proehl, David Hearn (Can), Steven Bowditch (Aus), Garrett Willis, Gavin Coles (Aus), Kyle Reifers, Joey Snyder III, Russell Knox (Sco)
75 Daniel Chopra (Swe), Will Claxton
76 Jason Kokrak, Scott Stallings
77 Zack Miller
78 Frank Lickliter II