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John Deere Golf Tourney Preview

   by ASA - 07/09/2008

Last weekend at the AT&T National in Bethesda, MD young phenom Anthony Kim (23 years old) shot a final round 65 for a two shot win over Fredrik Jacobson. Kim became the first American under 25 years of age to win twice in one year on the PGA Tour since a guy named Tiger Woods did it which puts him in elite company and makes him a player to watch in the future.

I myself wasn’t watching the young Kim though as I had my eyes (and money) on Steve Stricker at 33 to 1 and Hunter Mahan at 20 to 1. Stricker didn’t start well with a 71 but then shot 64 and 66 in his second and third rounds which put him in position to contend on Sunday. Then a final day 73 eliminated the Madison, WI native out of contention. One of my other picks, Hunter Mahan, was in perfect position to contend heading into the final nine holes but faltered down the stretch. Mahan had a bogey on the second hole on Sunday but then caught fire with birdies on the third, fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth holes that got him to 4 under after nine holes, but the back nine wasn't so kind. A bogey on No. 14 followed by a double on No. 15 pretty much ended his chances for a win along with mine.

This week at the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run we expect a very low score to win this event. The TPC Deere Run surrendered 1676 birdies last year. Only two courses on TOUR gave up more -- Forest Oaks (Wyndham Championship, 2,056 birdies) and Warwick Hills (Buick Open, 1,786). In fact, this par-71 course has yielded more birdies than all but four courses over the past four years.

So who will contend this weekend at the Classic? Kenny Perry is the favorite at 7-1 with good reason. Perry's won twice in the last two months, he hasn't missed a cut since the Sony Open, and he's sixth on the Tour in birdie average. Despite playing this track for the very first time in his career last year Perry finished a respectable 11th. I’m wagering on Perry this weekend but will also invest in two other players that could potentially net us a very nice return on our investment.

Heath Slocum comes in at 20-1 this weekend and is a great choice for a win at the J.D. Classic. This could very well be the week Slocum strings together four strong rounds as the course sets up well for his game. Slocum has played extremely well on Thursdays and Fridays this year, ranking 11th in pre-cut scoring, but he has faltered on the weekend. This is a good spot for the accurate-driving Slocum (8th on the Tour in driving accuracy) to make a move. Solid position in the fairways will lead to plenty of easy approach shots and birdies. He's finished sixth, third and 13th in his last three trips over the Deere Run course and has five top ten finishes overall this season.

My long shot this weekend is Australian born Nathan Green at 60-1. This might be a bit of a stretch but at these odds it’s worth a small wager on your part. Green finished third last year at TPC Deere Run after holding the 54-hole lead but an even par 71 on the final day placed him third, three shots back of Champion Jonathon Byrd. Yes, Green has missed the cut in his last two starts but I still like his chances this weekend. Green makes a lot of birdies, 222 already this year, and that's what it takes to win at the TPC Deere Run. Not to mention, the young Aussie had the low round of the tournament last year with a blistering 63 in the second round. At 60-1 why not take a shot with Nathan Green this weekend.

An interesting side note about this weekend's tournament is the fact that six of the last nine winners at the John Deere Classic Champions have been claimed by first-time winners. J.L. Lewis (1999), Michael Clark II (2000), David Gossett (2001), Mark Hensby (2004), Sean O'Hair (2005) and John Senden (2006).

See you on the Links next Wednesday.

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