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John Deere Classic Preview and Picks
by Matt Fargo - 07/09/2014
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 44th 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 16th 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 was the third easiest par 71 on tour. 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 and it only stretches out to 7,268 yards at the most. 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 -19, -20, -22, -26, -20, -16, -18 and -19 the last eight 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 four years ago, which was just the fourth ever 59 on tour. Last year's champion Jordan Spieth carded three straight 65's following a Thursday 70 and eventually won in a playoff.
Because of the big favorites, we are getting good odds down the list including Ryan Moore (+2,000). It has been a very solid season for Moore as he has 10 top 25's with half of those resulting in top tens. This includes a T5 at the Travelers in his last start. Two years ago, he made his first start at the John Deere in three years and finished T8 and followed it up with a T22 last year.
Harris English (+2,200) is another player that has quietly put together a solid season. He is coming off a T7 in his last start at the Travelers which was his seventh top ten overall compared to just four missed cuts. He already has a win this year at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba and he is a birdie machine as his 4.01 birdie average is ninth best on tour. He finished T15 at the John Deere last year.
Chris Kirk (+2,900) has been one of the most consistent players on tour with 22 straight cuts made. He is eighth in FedEx Cup points thanks to a win at The McGladrey Classic, a solo second at the Sony and a T4 at the Memorial. A Saturday 75 kept him out of contention last week at the Greenbrier. Last year, he struggled on Sunday here as he was -14 coming in but posted a final round 72 to finish T22.
Charles Howell III (+5,500) is the first of two big underdog selections this week. He started the season on absolute fire with six top tens through 10 starts. He has cooled off since then but he has made five straight cuts which includes a T3 at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. He is going for his first win since 2007 and it helps knowing his T5 finish here in 2011 shows he can go low.
Michael Thompson (+6,500) is the bigger underdog selection for this week. He is coming off a T11 last week at the Greenbrier Classic which was his seventh top 25 in 14 made cuts and he narrowly missed his second top ten in six weeks. He is 11th in strokes gained - putting and that could be his biggest asset here where he makes his first start since 2011 and finished T13.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the John Deere Classic (all for One Unit)
Ryan Moore (+2,000)
Harris English (+2,200)
Chris Kirk (+2,900)
Charles Howell III (+5,500)
Michael Thompson (+6,500)
2014 Record to date after 25 events: -68 Units
Sony Open in Hawaii -5 Units
Humana Challenge -5 Units
Farmers Insurance Open -5 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open -5 Units
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am +22 Units
Northern Trust Open -5 Units
WGC - Accenture Match Play +23 Units
Honda Classic -5 Units
WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units
Valspar Championship -5 Units
Arnold Palmer Invitational -5 Units
Valero Texas Open -5 Units
Shell Houston Open -5 Units
The Masters -7 Units
Zurich Classic -5 Units
Wells Fargo Championship -5 Units
THE PLAYERS Championship -5 Units
HP Byron Nelson Championship -5 Units
Crowne Plaza Invitational -5 Units
Memorial Tournament -5 Units
FedEx St. Jude Classic -5 Units
U.S. Open -6 Units
Travelers Championship -5 Units
Quicken Loans National -5 Units
Greenbrier Classic -5 Units