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Martin Laird watches his approach shot to the 18th green during Thursday's first round of the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis.

Martin Laird's focus at this week's John Deere Classic was on being in the Quad-Cities and playing well. He had a number of reasons for that simple perspective.

“I'm not in a (great) position in the FedExCup,” said Laird of his motivation this week. “I'm more focused on having a nice solid week and making sure I take care of getting in the playoffs and taking care of next year.”

The 36-year-old is playing for a lot this week. He comes into his 22nd event of the season ranked 127th on the FedExCup list, needing to move into the top 125 to make the rapidly approaching playoffs and secure his playing privileges for the 2019-20 season.

This is Laird's first JDC since he tied for 29th here his rookie year in 2008. Since 2009, his schedule has taken the Glasgow, Scotland, native back home. The Scottish Open was his choice of tournaments ahead of the following week's The Open Championship.

“I remember my rookie year on Tour, I enjoyed this place, and I played pretty decent, I think. I can't remember, but I think I played OK,” said the guy who sports the Scottish flag on his golf bag, golf balls and his belt.

“It was just a clash of dates. It was hard to turn down going back and playing my national open. Otherwise I would have been here almost every year. This year I made the decision a couple months ago … to come here this year instead of going back to Scotland, and obviously after the round today I'm happy with that.”

Thursday's round may make his schedule more difficult to figure out in the future.

Laird had a clean card through 16 holes of play at TPC Deere Run before a wayward tee shot on No. 8 led to his only bogey of a 6-under 65 round that included seven birdies. He was just three shots behind Roberto Diaz, who took the lead late in the day with an 9-under 62.

Laird admits that he has had trouble putting together four good rounds at a tournament. If he can do that this week, there is also a nice potential bonus waiting should he stay near the top of the leaderboard. The highest finisher in the top five not already eligible for next week's Open Championship earns a spot in that field and can get there via the JDC charter that flies directly to Glasgow on Sunday evening.

“If I finish high enough, I get to go back over to play in the Open, and that's obviously an added bonus,” said Laird, who along with his family has enjoyed the Quad-Cities and especially Tuesday's Big Dig family gathering. “But no, there's no added pressure with that.”

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Tom is a sports reporter for Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline.com.

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