08/08/2016

Typically, the John Deere Classic is an over-shadowed week of golf on the PGA Tour. And that changes this week. This week, it’s an extremely over-shadowed week of golf, opposite golf’s first appearance in the Olympics in a century.

The John Deere Classic played in the month of July every year, is usually an Open Championship side note, or a forgotten 4th of July Tour event.

We get used to be overlooked here in the Midwest– in “fly-over” land.

But let’s take a look into the picks this week and talk about who’s going to play well in the Quad Cities.

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Fun Charity Fact: John Deere Classic’s “Birdies for Charity” giving, which raised $8.73 million during last year’s edition.

An approach shot into the 9th green...by me.

An approach shot into the 9th green…by me (back in 2011).

Course

Read all about the TPC Deere Run golf course here

The TPC Deere Run, sitting on the Rock River in Silvis, Illinois, was built on a former horse farm. With rolling hills and creative holes weaving through old trees and river valleys, it gives the Tour a fair, fun test. Players love it out at Deere Run. Built in 1999, D.A. Weibring has created a design which gives players a visual challenge, despite offering tremendous scoring opportunities.

Having played the course, I noticed a few things.

Number one, the course can be made more difficult than it plays.

Tour players are challenged weekly by courses and committees looking to “show the teeth” of their beloved home courses. They get the greens moving, narrow the fairways, and create continued troubles for the field. It’s fine, sure. But I think the folks at the TPC Deere Run want to give players the chance to score and display their abilities.

I’m shocked, every year, at how firm and fast the fairways are every year. This renders even the long par-4s, like the par-4 15th, into a driver/wedge for these guys. When I played in 2011, the course was wet. It was a driver (about 275 yards) and a full 5-iron (at 195 yards). These guys have flip wedges with the firm conditions of the fairways.

Overall, the course plays as a docile, but fun scoring test for the entire field. A Midwestern boy at heart, this tournament is one of my favorites every year.

Full Field

Click here for a link to the entire 2016 John Deere Classic field.

Last 5 Champs

Jordan Spieth has become the modern-day Steve Stricker. A John Deere Classic dominator…

This Week’s John Deere Picks

Three From the Fairway (Contenders)

Patrick Rodgers

I had Rodgers in this spot last year and he let me down with a disappointing MC. Granted, he played well with a 67 to open.

But Rodgers is coming off some great play at the Travelers and has a game which really fits TPC Deere Run well. Statistically, a long player, and one who makes a lot of birdies (20.66% in birdie or better percentage).

Only one missed cut since early June and some solid play in and out, Rodgers is poised for a breakthrough. Four great rounds here in 2013 vaulted him into a T15.

The Nike news is interesting news for Rodgers, as he’ll be one of the young stars likely to be scooped up (I see him going to PXG) here within the next calendar year. Anyways, I think Rodgers channels that 67 from last year, his play at the Travelers last week, and the play by some peers here in the past to post some strong numbers at the JDC. A nice little top-10.

Daniel Summerhays

He’s quietly crept his way up the OWGR all the way to 53rd. And his 2016 may be one of the best seasons of his career. Before the Canadian Open and a second round 78, Summerhays had made a stretch of 9 cuts in a row, including 5 finishes inside the top-25. Then the PGA Championship happened.

In looking at the final 2016 leaderboard from Baltustrol, I don’t think any player was more of a surprise than Summerhays. His final round 66 moved him to a 3rd place finish, his best finish in a major for his career. (His second-best finish came at the U.S. Open in June at Oakmont.)

Summerhays is a bit of a horse for the course here at TPC Deere Run with finishes inside the top-15 each of the past 3 seasons.

Go Summerhays this week. You won’t be let down.

Steve Stricker

Gotta find Strick when you have the chance at the John Deere.

Stricker, with the limited schedule and pre-Senior Tour mindset, has played awesome golf in 2016. How does a guy playing part-time with his eyes on retirement maintain a 69.81 scoring average, playing some of the toughest tests in golf? I just don’t get it, but I love it. Stricker’s my man.

A few awesome events back-to-back between The Open Championship and the FedEx and he’s racked up some money, and good form recently.

We don’t need to talk about his recent form here.

Steve’s gunna channel a little more of this…

One From the Rough (Sleeper)

Tyrone Van Aswegan 

You want a sleeper, how about a 34-year old from South Africa with only a year and some change under his belt on the PGA Tour? You probably have never heard of him. I barely have.

But Tyrone Van Aswegan, the 348th-player in the world, is playing some mighty good golf right now.

A Web.com Tour player for the better part of his career, Van Aswegan has finally started to make strides on the professional Tour. He’s made every cut since mid-May, with nothing fantastic of note. But rounds of 67, 66, and 65 at the Travelers gave him the best finish of his career with a T5 last week at TPC River Highlands.

He comes into the John Deere with a head full of steam and opened last year with a 66. He’s a sleeper to watch if you want someone in good form.

The Man with the Trophy

Jon Rahm

Bold strategy, Cotton… but hey, young guys do well at the John Deere. Rahm’s going to do it.

You’re probably wondering, the Spaniard on the European Ryder Cup team?  Guess again.  But he’s created a hell of a lot of buzz.

His play in 2016 has been good enough, with temporary status, to earn his PGA Tour card for 2016-2017. After deciding to leave Arizona State University a year early, he tried to make the Tour in a way only a few have. After all, he was the most decorated Sun Devil golfer to come out of school since Phil Mickelson. On earning his card he said, “It is a little bit of a relief not having to think on FedExCup points or money anymore.” That means a freed up mind.

Now what happens when uber-talents have a freed up mind and can play pressure free? Some special things.

Rahm’s been able to tear up many of the venue he’s been at at TPC Deere Run should be no different. Rahm’s length will put him in places to score and his stats with the total driving (earning over a stroke on the Tour) and his putting (also, earning a stroke), will make him another one of those “sooner rather than later” types.

This is the week. Rahm for the win!

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