Tom: Paging Captain Obvious (whoa I just realized how dated that reference is, paging!?)… Yeah I’m going to go with Steve Stricker here. There’s one reason why he might not be the safest bet – he has an extremely limited sample size of tournaments played this season. But the reasons why he is the obvious safe bet at TPC Deere Run are as follows: From 2009-2011 he firmly held on to the trophy and wouldn’t let go, and in the two tournaments to follow his win and two-time defense, he finished T5 and T10. He is also coming off of a T35 after being in contention through 54 holes. Maybe a familiar track is just the medicine he needs.
Dave: Jordan Spieth is coming in with 9/1 odds and is the favorite to win out in Vegas. Spieth has top-20 finishes in his last 4 events and even won this thing last year in the playoff. I really don’t know what else to say.
Jon: I’ve decided to take the old Colin Coherd method this week and basically go all chalk. For that reason I too and going with Steve Stricker. The other reason I am going with Strick-9 is because I need some good karma, and I figure the best way to achieve that is to bet on Mr. Nice-Guy himself. Tom nailed it on the head: Stricker owns TPC Deere Run. After a lousy Sunday at the Greenbrier, I see Stricker putting together a complete tournament and walking away with a win.
Dark Horse for the Week?
Tom: I am going with someone I alluded to in the Preview, in J.J. Henry. Henry is a little less than a year from turning 40, and has had a rocky season thus far. Aside from a T13 at the FedEx St. Jude, he has no better finish than a T39 in 2014, and has missed the cut or been disqualified in 10 out of 24 attempts. However, as I mentioned before, this tournament has always been kind to him, including providing him with a top 10 last year, and this time I am going to ask for history to repeat itself.
Dave: Luke Guthrie was quoted saying of the event “Not only did it give me a start on the PGA tour, I mean, just besides that, kind of a hometown event.” With that kind of confidence, he’s gonna attack this course. The University of Illinois product has had a bit of a sine wave of a season with more troughs than peaks. I apologize for throwing trigonometry at you without warning, it won’t happen again. Luke stopped by Champaign on Monday to meet with his old golf coach and get an impromptu lesson. I don’t really have anything else to support my theory. Just a good old hunch.
Jon: For the second week in a row I am going with Ted Potter Jr. and I’ll tell you why. He didn’t disappoint me last week as my dark horse, but more importantly J.K. Rowling just released new canon literature on older Harry Potter. As previously mentioned, I’m looking for good karma this week and if that’s not a sign that Ted Potter Jr. is going to do well this week, then I don’t know what is.
Unexpected Player to Miss the Cut?
Tom: This is a complicated category this week, because there simply aren’t many big names playing. Now, the biggest shockers to miss the cut would be Stricker, Zach Johnson, or defending champion Jordan Spieth. But I think they will all make the cut… So instead, I am going with a guy who I know many will pick as their “fly under the radar to win” guy. He is not a dark horse, but Ryan Moore is a guy who has quietly remained in the Ryder Cup discussion thanks to a win in the wraparound season and three top 10s on the year. Just as he starts making that final push up the standings, I think he takes a step back here with an unexpected missed cut.
Dave: Kevin Na is having a heck of a season but will he do well this weekend? NAaaaaaaa. I think this will be yet another speed bump in his career. The man hasn’t played at the John Deere Classic since 2008 when he missed the cut. So as well as he’s been playing, I don’t think he’ll put up much of a fight here.
Jon: Because he so badly let me down last week, I’m going with Brendon de Jonge. I think de Jonge will look ahead to The Open Championship and won’t get his Zimbabwean head in the game. Though the last time de Jonge missed at cut at TPC Deere Run was in 2009, I have a feeling that he’s not going to get it done this week. He’s either going to be out come Saturday, or nowhere near contention come sunday.
Favorite to Win?
Tom: Much like my theory on Dark Horse picking, I am going to pick blindly here and go with Robert Garrigus. Okay, it is not a complete blind pick. Garrigus is in his second-straight season of not being able to find the form he was in throughout a stellar 2012 campaign, but he has notched a couple top 10s this season, as well as an impressive T11 in his most recent start at the Quicken Loans National. This one is a long shot, but just remember how many winners on tour this year have been “long shots.”
Dave: Zach Johnson. Mr. Joaquin Phoenix lookalike is gonna get all Gladiator on this course and win it all. Though you may be thinking “Where has Zach been since that January win at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions?” I hear you loud and clear but he’d tell you I’m Still Here. Zach won this tournament in 2012 and took home the trophy which looks a monster deer is trying to kick a tiny green. You want some more Signs that he’ll win? No problem. Zach is more or less The Master on this course as he has racked up four top-five finishes since 2009 on this course. I think he’s gonna Walk the Line to the winners podium this weekend.
Jon: Stamp my ticket mister conductor, because I am all-aboard the Steve Stricker train. Stricker was on my fantasy team last year, and even with a limited number of tournaments, the guy can flat out play. He’s a guy that you want to root for: an all-American man, who puts his family before his career, but who can still destroy it on the course when he wants to.
Tom: Robert Garrigus, Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, Russell Henley
I wrestled with whether or not to pick the obvious Zach Johnson after already having picked the obvious Steve Stricker. I decided I simply could not leave Johnson, and his impressive history on this course, off of my foursome, for obvious reasons. And if it were not for Jordan Spieth’s win at the John Deere last year, Russell Henley would likely have been named rookie of the year. One year later, I predict that Henley will coast under the spotlight pointed at Spieth, and finish high up on the leader board.
Dave: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Ryan Moore, Steve Stricker
Spieth, Johnson for the reasons I listed above. Stricker for the reasons Tom and Jon listed above as well as the fact that Jimmy Johnson is back as his looper. I feel like every time Stricker’s wife caddies, she gets in his head about how he needs to mow the lawn when they get home. Which brings me to Ryan Moore. Ryan “I wear this hat and these clothes” Moore. My man is 17th in driving accuracy which will help a good deal. Moreover, he finished 8th in 2012 and top-25 last year. I think he’ll get after it this weekend and have a good showing.
Jon: Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth,
You will notice that my foursome is almost exactly like Dave’s. Like I said with my safe bet, I’m going almost all chalk here. With Stricker and Johnson in the one and two slots, I’ve got to go with my man Jordan Spieth as he tries to defend his title from last year.
The other guy I’m going with is Patrick “The Villain” Reed. Why is Reed the Villain? Mainly because Tom has a strong disdain for him. Whether it’s his smug face, or his stupid necklace from 1997 the guy is just easy to dislike. That won’t however, stop me from putting him in my foursome. Hopefully he doesn’t have another epic meltdown like he had two weeks ago. A funny thing happens sometimes in golf: One of your foursome picks doesn’t end up following through and playing in the current tournament. For that reason Patrick Reed has become even more of a villain, and I fully expect him to be wearing a Puka-shell necklace in his next tournament.