With the Open Championship on deck next week, the PGA Tour takes a hit as players are either resting or playing over in Europe.
The Open Championship is the one major where players are not usually 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 5 at the John Deere Classic.
The John Deere Classic has been a mainstay on tour since 1972 and, even though this is the 43rd anniversary, the tournament has gone through eight name changes and three courses.
This is just the 15th 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, ranked 42nd out of 49 courses in difficulty. One of the reasons for that is, unlike other tracks, this one has not been lengthened much. 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. The winners have carded -20, -22, -26, -20, -16, -18 and -19 the last seven years and no winner has ever finished worse than -16. And that has been with a very light field.
There was a 59 scored by Paul Goydos in the opening round three years ago, which was just the fourth ever 59 on tour. This year, there are only three players ranked in the Top 20 of the OWGR, those being Louis Oosthuizen (10th), Steve Stricker (11th) and Keegan Bradley (16th).
Stricker (+600) is the favorite this week and for good reason. He won this event three straight years (2009-2011), so his T5 last season was considered a disappointment. He no doubt loves it here and, while he has not played since the U.S. Open, it is hard to disregard his four Top 10s in seven starts. Despite the short odds and limited schedule so far, he has to be played here.
Because Stricker is such a big favorite, we are getting good odds down the list including Ryan Moore (+2,500). It has been feast or famine with him this year. He has six missed cuts in 14 medal play events but also has three Top 10s. This includes a T7 at the Travelers in his last start. Last year, he made his first start at the John Deere in three years and finished T8.
Brendon de Jonge (+3,000) played well last week with a T17 at the Greenbrier and we will include him this week on a course he can take advantage of. He is a birdie machine with 284 of them, good for second on tour, and this is a course that allows a lot of them. He has played well here in the past with a T19 last year and consecutive T7 finishes in 2011 and 2010.
Kyle Stanley (+5,000) will be one of the long-shot picks this week. He has missed the cut in his last two starts but prior to that, he had three Top 10s in six starts so has fared better after a very slow start. He finished one shot behind Stricker in 2011, good for a solo second and finished T19 following a Sunday 66 last year. With a light field in play, he could break out.
Boo Weekley (+5,000) will be the other long shot taken. He is coming off a missed cut at the Greenbrier after taking time off after the U.S. Open. But it needs to be noted that he won the Crown Plaza Invitational at Colonial following a missed cut at the Byron Nelson. Overall, he has four Top 10s in his last 13 starts. He missed the cut here last year but it was not a good year to begin with. He shot a Friday 63 here in 2010. Recommended tournament win five pack at the John Deere Classic (all for one unit)
Steve Stricker (+600)
Ryan Moore (+2,500)
Brendon de Jonge (+3,000)
Kyle Stanley (+5,000)
Boo Weekley (+5,000)2012 Record to date after 36 events: +51.6 Units
2013 Record to date after 26 events: -35.4 Units
Hyundai Tournament of Champions -5 Units
Sony Open in Hawaii -5 Units
Humana Challenge - 5 Units
Farmer Insurance Open +3.5 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open +19 Units
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -5 Units
Northern Trust Open -5 Units
WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship +25.66 units
The Honda Classic -5 Units
WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units
Tampa Bay Championship -5 Units
Arnold Palmer Invitational -1.5 Units
Shell Houston Open -5 Units
The Masters -8 Units
RBC Heritage +27 Units
Zurich Classic of New Orleans -5 Units
The Wells Fargo Championship -5 Units
THE PLAYERS Championship -5 Units
HP Byron Nelson Championship -5 Units
Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial -5 Units
Memorial Tournament -5 Units
FedEx St. Jude Classic -5 Units
U.S. Open -6 Units
Travelers Championship -5 Units
AT&T National -5 Units
Greenbrier Classic -5 Units