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John Deere Classic Preview and Picks
by Matt Fargo - 07/05/2011
With the Open Championship on deck for next week, the PGA Tour takes a hit with the field as players are either resting or playing over in Europe this week. The Open Championship is the one Major where players usually are not playing the prior week due to the significant travel time. Players not already in the Open Championship still have a shot to play as one place has been reserved for the leading player, not already exempt, finishing in the top five at the John Deere Classic.
The John Deere Classic has been a mainstay on tour since 1972 and even though this is the 41st anniversary, the tournament has gone through eight name changes and three courses. The event nearly died on several occasions back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s but it somehow stayed above water and when John Deere took over the sponsorship in 1999, as it is also the official supplier of equipment throughout the tour, it is a pretty healthy stop on an annual basis.
This is just the 13th year that the TPC at Deere Run has hosted the event which obviously coincides with the sponsor. The course is one of the easiest on the schedule as last year Deere Run ranked 43rd out of 52 courses in difficulty. One of the reasons for that as unlike other tracks, this one has not been lengthened much as only 75 yards has been added since its inception in 2000. Also, the course has only three water hazards throughout.
With the course being easy, the scores are always very low as the winners have carded -26, -20, -16, -18 and -19 the last five years and no winner has ever finished worse than -16. And that has been with a very light field. There was a 59 scored in the opening round by Paul Goydos last year, which was just the fourth ever 59 on tour. This year there are only two players that are ranked in the top 10 of the OWGR, those being Steve Stricker and Jason Day.
Steve Stricker (+700) is the two-time defending champion as he won by two shots over Goydos to win last year. He become the second back-to-back winner of this event and first since David Frost did it in 1992-93. He has not played since the U.S. Open and is coming off a win at the Memorial prior to that. He has not missed a cut this year and while the value is small, he is hard to bet against.
You cannot look past Jason Day (+1000) either. Like Stricker, he has not played since the U.S. Open, where he finished solo second, but he comes back strong after taking some time off. He has finished in the top ten in five of his last six events and his résumé at Deere Run is solid with finishes of T15 each of the last two years. The 2006 John Deere was his first ever PGA Tour event.
Jonathan Byrd (+2500) won this event in 2007 and he has never missed the cut in his seven trips to Deere Run. He already has a win to his credit this year in his opening event at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions as well as a runner up at the Wells Fargo. He did miss the cut at the U.S. Open in his last event but he is 24th in birdie average which is obviously important here.
Brandt Jobe (+5000) is having a pretty solid season as he is 42nd on the money list thanks in part to three top tens including a T2 at the Memorial. He has not played here since 2008 when he missed the cut but he does have some strong results here from year's past. He is second on the PGA Tour in birdies and that is certainly an asset to possess as winning here takes a lot of birdies.
We are getting great value with Robert Garrigus (+6000) here. He has five top 20's this year including a runner-up at the Hyundai and a T3 at the U.S. Open and he has made the cut in nine of his last 10 events. He won once last year at Walt Disney Palm so he knows what it takes. He finished T23 at Deere Run two years ago which was his best finish here in three starts.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the John Deere Classic – All for 1 Unit
Steve Stricker (+700)
Jason Day (+1000)
Jonathan Byrd (+2500)
Brandt Jobe (+5000)
Robert Garrigus (+6000)