The John Deere Classic
TPC Deere Run
TPC Deere Run
Yards: 7,268 per the scorecard
Par: 71 (35-36)
Greens: Bentgrass; 8,000 square feet on average
Rough: Kentucky bluegrass at 3”
Water Hazards: 3
Course Architects: D.A. Weibring and Chris Gray (1999); PGA TOUR Design (2006-2007)
Winner’s Share: $828,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Zach Johnson defeated Troy Matteson on the second playoff hole to win his first John Deere Classic (JDC).
Dates: July 11-14
Notes: The JDC moved to TPC Deere Run in 2000. The winner of this week’s tournament will play The Open Championship if not already eligible.
There have been 27 tournaments this season. The Stars and Stripes have won 22 of them but Australian Adam Scott and Englishman Justin Rose have the two biggest trophies, the Masters and U.S. Open, respectively.
There have also been 10 first-time winners this season. There have also been just two multiple winners, Tiger Woods (four) and Matt Kuchar (WGC-Match Play; Memorial). There were only nine first-time winners in 2012.
After cranking out first-time winners in five of the first six years at TPC Deere Run, there hasn’t been such a champion since John Senden in 2006.
Past champions in the field include:
Sean O’Hair (2005)
John Senden (2006)
Jonathan Byrd (2007)
Steve Stricker (2009-2011)
Zach Johnson (2012).
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson, D (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods FOUR times (37), Mickelson (42), Snedeker (32), Merrick (30) Kuchar TWICE (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32), G-Mac (33), Horschel (26), Ernst (22), Bae (26), Weekley (39) English (23), Rose (32), Duke (44) Haas (31) and now Blixt (29). The young folks (30 and younger) now have 11 victories; the 30-somethings have racked up 14 victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) have three wins on the year.
Only 10 players in history have won the week before a major and have gone on to lift the trophy the following week. Since 2000, only Phil Mickelson (2006) and Tiger Woods (2007) have pulled off this back-to-back feat. That’s some company.
Rank and File
Just 22 of the OWGR top 100 players are entered this week; just eight from the top 50 if you are into those kinds of numbers.
TPC Deere Run ranked the 42nd-hardest course of the 49 used on TOUR last year so it’s no surprise that this week, again, will be another birdie festival. This course has seen 59 with Paul Goydos, 60 with Steve Stricker, a pair of 61s and EIGHT 62s since becoming the host. And if you’re not making an obnoxious amount of birdies, you better not make bogeys. Zach Johnson racked up 24 birdies to four bogeys last year; Stricker made 25 birdies to three bogeys in 2011. In 2010, when he set the course record Stricker made 31 birdies in 72 holes. The HIGHEST winning score here is 16-under 268.
I’m looking for guys who rack up under-par scores and avoid bogeys. Guys who are GIR machines will have the most chances to make birdies but there is no doubt that great putters (Stricker and Johnson) can thrive here as well. The greens are over 8,000 square feet so if approach play is crooked, many feet of putts will need to be holed just to keep up. With scores this low historically, the greens will obviously be conducive to scoring. Don’t forget there are three par-five holes this week as well.
Steve Stricker in 2010 fired 26-under for the tournament record.
Paul Goydos in 2010 fired 59 in the opening round to set the course record.
Best 10, Plus One
Steve Stricker: His “Quad-peat” was stifled last year as his putter went cold and he finished T5. Recapping, in his last four starts here he’s finished T5, WIN, WIN and WIN. Shall I keep typing? If you’re concerned he’s “not playing enough”, well he’s hit the top 10 in four of seven starts including T8 his last time out at the U.S. Open. He takes the top spot because of Johnson’s lack of recent form.
Zach Johnson: It feels strange typing this but Johnson only has one top 10 in 16 events in 2013 but that should NOT concern you this week. He sits on the board of directors. He considers this event his “fifth major”. He is Iowa, born and bred. In his last four times around he’s won, finished T3, T21 and T2. Home cookin’ is usually the cure for what ails. His last round in the 70s here was five years ago.
Keegan Bradley: He feasts on par fours and fives and makes plenty of birdies so he should feel at home this week in a birdie-fest. He showed glimpses of form last time out at the Travelers and should find plenty of chances to get low this week in his first visit to the Quad Cities. He’s already posted a 60 this season at HPBNC so you know it’s in there!
Scott Stallings: He has no problems racking up birdies and he looked like he was getting back into the groove last week at Greenbrier. He’s had plenty of success in tournaments where low scores are needed (Humana, Sanderson Farms) so he should be licking his chops this week. His putter was rolling it last weekend so if he’s hitting greens, look out!
Jordan Spieth: He’s racked up seven top 25s and five top 10s in 11 cuts made this season. He knows the ONLY way he gets into the FEDEXCup Playoffs by doing one thing: Winning. He logged four rounds here last year (T58) so he’ll be familiar with the surroundings and from the looks of his game, he’ll be up for the challenge. It doesn’t hurt that he destroys par fours as he finds plenty of fairways.
Louis Oosthuizen: After back-to-back WDs on TOUR, the South African bagged four rounds in the 60s at Greenbrier to turn heads again. Who doesn’t enjoy watching this guy swing a golf club? His iron play and scrambling will have to be the difference for him this week as his flat stick, 69th in strokes gained-putting last week, is a bit chilly.
Brendon de Jonge: He’s already racked up 22 starts and in his last one he finished with a very solid 66 at Greenbrier to make the weekend for the 17 time in 2013. He’s a cash-cow and his nine top 25s illustrate that. He enjoys this track as he’s 11 of his last 12 rounds under par in the last three seasons and has finished T19, T7 and T7. Fairways and greens are his strength and those solid numbers have led to 284 birdies this season, second most on TOUR. He also leads the TOUR in par-five performance. Sadly for him, he’s my OAD this week. Thanks to @unknowncomic2, this has been corrected. de Jonge can thank me later...
Charley Hoffman/Morgan Hoffmann: COUPLED ENTRY for your horse racing fans! Charley is currently eighth in birdie average and fifth in birdie-or-better conversion. He also kills par fours and fives in general. His very solid season has seen him play 10 of the last 11 weekends on his schedule. Morgan has caused my GolfChannel.com Fantasy team to bottom out as I didn’t pull the trigger on him the last three weeks. Shut up. He’s been under par in nine of his last 12 rounds and is brimming with confidence. All young kids know how to make birdies and he enjoys making them on par fours and that won’t hurt this week.
John Senden: The Aussie has fond memories around these parts as this was the scene of his only career TOUR victory in 2006. In four of his 10 starts, Senden has finished T15 or better including T12 in 2011 and T4 last year. In those two years he was a combined 30-under par. I, like you, worry about his putter, but this should be the barometer on putting this week. Senden doesn’t putt well but even he finds a way once he arrives at TPC Deere Run.
Matt Jones: The Aussie has found T6 (Memorial) and T2 (Greenbrier) as bookends in his last four starts on TOUR. He sandwiched those with MC and T64 but he showed last weekend that he looks to be in a happy place with 19 birdies and his best finish on TOUR. He finished MC the last two years at the JDC but in the two years before that he posted fifth and T5.