When players tee it up at The John Deere Classic at the TPC Deere Run golf course on Thursday, it is not a prelude to what players will face next week at Hoylake. The par 71 layout along the banks of the Rock River remains one of the easier courses on the PGA Tour where 2012 Champ, and home-boy, Zach Johnson has averaged 66.80 in his last 20 rounds.
With most of the top players in the world either playing in Aberdeen at the Scottish Open this week, or enjoying some time off before taking on Royal Liverpool next week, there is an opportunity for one more player to make next weeks field at The Open Championship.
Last year it was Rookie Jordan Spieth who boarded the special jet after his first, and only win at The John Deere Classic to play at Muirfield in Scotland. His 2013 win at TPC Deere Run Changed his status on the PGA Tour, and his life forever.
Steve’s 2012 loss to Zach Johnson ended a streak of three consecutive wins at TPC Deere Run, and set the now, 47 year-old into a slump that I believe cost Team USA the Ryder Cup Championship at Medinah. That is a subject for a different post, but it also set the course for Steve to become a “part time golfer”. He’s back, he’s rested, and I think Steve Stricker wants to play his way onto Tom Watson’s 2014 team. Stricker owns TPC Deere Run, and is ready to resume his winning ways. To go along with his three consecutive wins, Steve Stricker has four top tens including last year’s T10. Now that he has said no to the Open Championship next week, he can let it all hang out this week.
Zach Johnson took a miracle shot at Tiger Woods’ tournament at Sherman Oaks last December and rode that non-point win to Hawaii where he proved you don’t have to be a big hitter to win at Kapalua. He has cooled since the tour left the West Coast, so this would be a great week for the 38 year-old from nearby Iowa City to resume his winning ways at TPC Deere Run. The 2008 Masters Champ sits 16th in World Rankings, and 17th in FedEx Cup points.
Jordan Spieth has done everything in the year since his 2013 win here at TPC Deere Run except win another tournament. He won the Rookie of the Year award, he made the Presidents Cup, and has had made the top 20 in his last four starts. This year, the youngster from Dallas should be ready for his first title defense.
Billy Hurley III
The former Naval officer has had a great run since finishing T8 at Congressional a couple of weeks back, but now that he knows he will be going to Hoylake in two weeks, can relax and get that all-important win. That’s the only thing he hasn’t done to this point after having the 36 and 54 hole lead last week at Greenbrier. I think the pressure, and playing with Angel Cabrera in the finale’ was good for him to be a part of.
Harris English is currently ranked 14th in the Ryder Cup standings, and needs to get a win to push himself up into the top nine. Captain Tom Watson has too many decisions on veteran players, and English will not make the team unless he plays himself in. This week at The John Deere Classic would be a great place to get that monkey off of his back. This will be his first start since a T7 at the Travelers a few weeks back, and he got a T15 in his debut here last year.