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Golf Handicapping: John Deere Classic PGA Preview

John Deere Classic Preview

Matt Fargo

Matt Fargo

The week before a Major can be a crapshoot on which players are going to tee it up and which players will be taking the week off to rest. In the case of the week before the Open Championship, it is pretty cut and dry as most big name players are going to relax and take their time heading over the pond to Turnberry and the year’s third Major.

That leaves the John Deere Classic with a lack of star quality this week but it nonetheless should be a quality tournament.

The tournament is played at the TPC Deere Run which was opened in 2000 and has hosted the event ever since. It is one of the most interesting pieces of land on the PGA Tour based on its rich history and it is also one of the easiest stops on the circuit. It was ranked 39th out of 54 courses in difficulty in 2008 which comes as no surprise considering only five players finished the tournament over par including one amateur.


Only six of the top 50 players in the world are on hand at TPC Deere Run which definitely shows the weakness of the field. Leading the way is defending champion Kenny Perry (+800), who is ranked second in the FedEx Cup and fourth in the OWGR. He is the favorite but he is not the overwhelming favorite and that unfortunately takes away some of the value of the other players. However, there is still value to be had if choosing to go in a different direction.

Perry is the favorite for a reason. He is the highest ranked player in the event and as mentioned, is the defending champion after defeating Brad Adamonis and Jay Williamson in a playoff last year. Perry has been one of the hottest players on tour with wins in five official events since the start of last season. It will be hard to bet against him but there is better value out there and it is never an easy task to win consecutive tournaments (Travelers win two weeks ago).

One player who is overdue for a breakout is Steve Stricker (+1000). Stricker did win once this season already at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in a playoff over Tim Clark and Steve Marino but he has been so close numerous other times. He has three other top four finishes and in 2009, he has placed in the top ten in six of the 12 cuts made. He last played in this event back in 2006, finishing T5 and prior to that he finished T4 in 2004 so he can certainly play this course.

Zach Johnson (+1500) is also a two-time winner on tour this season and he should definitely be in contention again this week. Besides the two victories, Johnson has three other top tens this year and is in good form to get the “Deere” off his back. His best finish at the TPC was T20 in 2004 and from 2005 though last year he has finished T36, T33, Cut and T69. Following his missed cut at the U.S. Open, Johnson finished 18th at the Travelers before taking last week off.

If looking for a longshot, look no further than Kevin Sutherland (+4000). While not a household name, Sutherland is playing like he should be. Although his rankings are nothing special (53rd in FedEx Cup points and 60th in OWGR) he is playing quite well. He has made the cut in 15 of 17 events this season and while he has only one top ten, this place could add to it. At the TPC Deere Run, he has placed 8th, T6 and T5 in three of the last six years so he could be the horse for the course in a light field.

Recommended plays for the John Deere Classic

Steve Stricker (+1000) 2 Units
Zach Johnson (+1500) 2 Units
Kevin Sutherland (+4000) 1 Unit

Any winner here gets us a sizable profit as opposed to last week when using Tiger Woods as a safety value (which ultimately worked out) although the Hunter Mahan winning ticket would have been nice.

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