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John Deere Classic Preview

   by Matt Fargo - 07/05/2010

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 St. Andrews 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 40th 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 12th 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 54 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 -20, -16, -18 and -19 the last four years and no winner has ever finished worse that -16. And that has been with a very light field. This year there are only three players that are ranked in the top 20 of the OWGR with Steve Stricker heading the list. In addition, there are just seven players from the top 50 with the other six being Zach Johnson, Tim Clark, Kenny Perry, Rickie Fowler, K.J. Choi and Bubba Watson.

Steve Stricker (+1500) is the defending champion as he won by three strokes over Zach Johnson, Brandt Snedeker and Brett Quigley. He took two weeks off after the U.S. Open which allowed him to further heal his chest injury which has held him back this season. He has made 15 straight cuts, including 10 this season, and that stretch is currently second best on tour.

Kenny Perry (+2500) was most famous two years ago when he decided to stay in the U.S. instead of going overseas to play in the Open Championship thinking it was better to obtain Ryder Cup points. He definitely made the right choice as he won here in 2008 in a playoff over Brad Adamonis and Jay Williamson. Despite just one top ten finish, Perry has missed only one cut this year.

Jeff Overton (+2500) is not a very common name on tour but he is playing some of the best golf out there. In his last eight starts, he has finished in the top three in half of those so he has been right there. This includes a solo third last week at the AT&T. He is ninth on tour in putting and that is where birdies are made at Deere Run. He has played the event only three times but has made the cut in each.

Carl Pettersson (+4000) has the three components to make a move here. He is currently in good form, he has fared well in the past at this stop and his stats fit what needs to get the job done. He finished sixth at the AT&T last week and he finished fifth here in 2007 and as far as stats, he is third on tour in putting and second in birdie or better on par fours and we know birdies will be important this week.

With a thin field, taking a shot at some higher odds is the way to go. One of those is Charley Hoffman (+5000). He has been up and down this year but he has made four consecutive cuts including the last two weeks so his injuries that plagued him early on look to be gone. Hoffman finished T15 at the John Deere last year and could have been better if not for an opening 71.

J.P. Hayes (+6000) has faltered some after a hot start to the season but playing at Deere Run could get him back into form in a hurry. He is coming off a missed cut at the AT&T but enters this week at one of his favorite stops and he does possess three top tens this season. After winning the event in 2002, he has followed that up with finishes of 2nd in 2006, T15 in 2007 and T9 in 2008.

Recommended Tournament Win Six Pack at the John Deere Classic – All for 1 Unit

Steve Stricker (+1500)

Kenny Perry (+2500)

Jeff Overton (+2500)

Carl Pettersson (+4000)

Charley Hoffman (+5000)

J.P. Hayes (+6000)

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