Moving from the shadow of The British Open into the shadow of The Olympics, the hard luck John Deere Classic remains an exciting, well run PGA Tour event.
The John Deere Classic had for many years been one of the real doormat tournaments on The PGA Tour. Hot and humid in Iowa - or in Illinois where it is now held - in mid July, and for the last 20-years, always coming the week right before The British Open. It was a real no man's land of a location on the Tour schedule. Not a part of The West Coast Swing, nor The Florida Swing.. nothing.. just in the middle of the country, in the middle of the Summer, and in the middle of most player's prep for the next week's Major Championship. But the event has garnered some steam in the past handful of years. With popular and big name players like Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, and most recently, Jordan Spieth, all having tremendous success at the tournament, The John Deere Classic was gaining some momentum. With each passing year, another player or two that was scheduled to play the following week at The British was deciding to make the trip to TPC Deere Run.
And then they decided to bring golf back to The Olympics. I feel it hurt The PGA Championship, The Travelers, and now it has hurt The John Deere Classic, which was moved to August this year and will host just eight players from the Top-100 in the world rankings - half of what was on the field last season. Adding insult to injury, the defending champion, Jordan Spieth, who decided to skip The Olympics, is not playing The Deere this year either. But The John Deere Classic takes its lumps and plays on with tremendous community support and large, enthusiastic crowds. It is a very well run event and I trust that next year it will get back to the positive groove it had been enjoying.
As far as what it takes to win at TPC Deere Run, it first helps if your name is Stricker or Johnson. In the last seven years, Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson have a combined ten Top-5 finishes including four wins. Interesting to note that Stricker is from nearby Wisconsin and attended the University of Illinois while Johnson is from Iowa, the tournament's former home, and went to Drake University.. so having some Midwest roots seems to pay dividends at The Deere. It will also take hitting greens in regulation and holing putts for birdie. The tournament really is a scoring fest and there is not much to be gained by either distance or accuracy off of the tee. Scrambling, work around the greens, putting, getting on the surface in regulation, and keeping pace by converting a lot of birdies will be a good formula to sign up for this week in Silvis, Illinois.
Zach Johnson +700 at BetVictor - No surprise here. Has anybody ever demonstrated such at any one tournament? Tiger at Bay Hill and Firestone, Davis Love at Harbour Town. Zach is no slouch though with just one finish lower than 3rd place here in the last seven years, including a victory in 2012. Incredible horse for this course. Gotta expects that he'll be right there again.
Steve Stricker +1200 - Not too far removed from Zach The Great is Stricker's case. Just months away from The Champions Tour, Stricker is making the most of his Summer with a 4th at The British, a 21st at The Scottish Open, and a 2nd at The St. Jude.. and at The Deere, he won it three straight times between 2009 and 2011 before stringing together three straight Top-11 finishes to follow that up.
Jon Rahm +1200 at William Hill - Right here in this column last week we spoke about the fast track to recognition the very talented Jon Rahm is experiencing - and here he is now fast tracking to the role of 2nd Favorite. Tough to argue. Despite a 25th last week at The Travelers, Rahm has three Top-10 finishes in seven events this season. This is his first time playing The John Deere Classic.
Kevin Na +2000 at 888Sport - Like Steve Stricker, Kevin Na has been on a very nice run this Summer and is the 2nd highest ranked player in the world in the field this week. 7th at The U.S. Open, 27th at The Bridgestone and a couple of 22's at The British at The PGA. Na finished 13th here last year.
Gary Woodland +2000 - Gary Woodland is one of the longest hitters on Tour but his distance won't necessarily be an advantage this week and if you look at past winners here, very few qualify as bombers. I feel that Gary is a contender though with a good enough short game, a lot of greens in regulation, and is riding what has been an excellent season - with only three missed cuts since November.
Ryan Moore +2000 at Ladbrokes - The UNLV Rebel has a very strong history at this course and is on a run of five straight cuts made, including three in Majors. He should be in the right place at the right time here this week.
The Long Shots
Jerry Kelly +3000 - A real home game of sorts for the Wisconsin native and he always seems to show up for the local supporters, having finished outside of the Top-25 just twice in ten visits to the tournament.
John Senden +4000 At BetVictor - A past winner here in 2006, Senden is a ball striker who hits a lot of greens in regulation and has improved his putting quite a bit recently. Just two weeks ago, he finished 18th at The PGA Championship.
Adam Hadwin +8000 at Skybet - The young Canadian is in just his second full season away from The Tour and has racked up nearly a million dollars in earnings with just two missed cuts in the last four months. Hadwin finished 18th in his debut here last year.
A very impressive season for The BYU Cougar as he has recorded a 23rd at The Players, an 8th at The U.S. Open, a 3rd at The PGA, and was 11th just last week at The Travelers. This week he comes to a place in which he has finished 8th, 13th, and 4th in his last three trips. He's done so with excellent putting, hitting greens, and making birdies. The John Deere Classic has been home to many first time Tour winners - and I think Summerhays adds to that list this week for you betting picks.
Free Golf Picks: Daniel Summerhays +2000
Best Line Offered: at Bet365