It's one of the easiest stops on the PGA Tour this week as the focus centres mainly around the pitch n' putt game in Illinois. The John Deere classic is your typical "throwing darts" at pins contest, and aggressive birdie making is the brief on a course that has seen the lowest scoring cut in each of the last four years. There is one Open championship spot left up for grabs to be given to the highest placed top five finisher not already exempt.
Jordan Spieth - 12.00 - bagged his maiden win here last year and interestingly he's gone on to lead the ranking in percentage of 1-putts made in 2014. Steve Stricker - 12.00 - went 3 for 3 here in 2009 through 2012 and is the all-time John Deere classic money earner. 2012 winner Zach Johnson - 23.00 - is the other man with a standout record at TPC Deere Run and both he and Stricker are short iron and flat stick experts.
The man getting my vote at the top end of the John Deere betting in 2014 though is Harris English - 26.00. With his length off the tee, Harris won't have a lot of yardage to cover from approaches and with his towering ball flight, I can see him taking out these pins on a track he warmed up on with a top 15 on his debut in 2013.
The course - TPC Deere Run
A par 71 playing circa 7,200 yards, fairways are generous and greens are large and accessible. Over 70% of both were hit here in 2013. The course very much lends itself to aggression from tee to green. A hot putter is always needed on low scoring courses, and proximity to the hole - especially with the short irons and wedge - is key around TPC Deere Run. 59 watch is on this week despite some moderate winds forecasted.
Paul Goydos and Steve Stricker opened 59-60 respectively here in 2010, while in 2012 Troy Matteson - 151.00 - hit a 61 for one of three solo first round leads in a 14 month period. Sandwiched in between, Johnny Vegas - 251.00 - carded 15 birdies - including a string of 6 in a row - over his first 36 holes around Deere Run in 2011.
Three from the pack
Sang Moon-Bae - 101.00 or 19.00 - is the type of character that should be suited to TPC Deere Run. A wizard with the putter, currently lying 10th in strokes gained, Bae knows how to take it low. An opening 63 at the Sony Open earlier in the year is the Korean's lowest of the season so far and he hit three rounds in the mid-sixties at Greenbrier last week. Bae has contended early on in a handful of big events but has struggled to stay the pace. There are not many better on tour from 5-25 feet so TPC Deere Run may be the ideal set up to change that.
Danny Lee is an interesting player this week. Often a fast starter, he also finds it hard to stay the pace but Lee did manage to post a 2nd place finish in a secondary type field in Puerto Rico. Danny opened and closed with 65 - 66 respectively last week and has some form at Deere Run with a top 30 last year. The 23 year old stands out in the short distance approach stats and trades at 126.00 or 23.00 the top five.
Another birdie machine type player is Alex Cejka - 101.00 or 19.00 - who has played a lot of golf this year and always seems to make his way onto the leaderboard. Cejka had a shot at the title in the Germany birdie fest a couple of weeks back until he visited the water hazards down the stretch. It was then straight back to the US where he carded a T7 to show progressive form of 60-28-12-7. Alex has won this year on the Webdotcom tour and has previous at the John Deere with a 3rd place consigned to the record books.
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