John Deere Classic Betting Preview

Steve Stricker

Steve Stricker (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

Steve Stricker’s once a month appearance on the PGA Tour happens this week, as the former three-time champion at TPC Deere Run will try to unseat defending champion Zach Johnson at the 2013 John Deere Classic.
2013 John Deere Classic Fact Sheet

  • Course: TPC Deere Run
  • Location: Silvis, Illinois
  • Yardage: 7,268 yards, par 71
  • Defending Champion: Zach Johnson
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, Keegan Bradley, Louis Oosthuizen and Ryan Moore

TV Schedule:

  • Thursday – 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 1:00 to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)
  • Sunday – 1:00 to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)

Key Storyline This Week
Even though he didn’t win in 2012, Stricker is still the focus here because of the incredible run he’s on at the course. Stricker has played here eight times, and in the thirty rounds he’s played here, he’s got a stroke average of 67.4, which is absolutely ludicrous. Those eight appearances have yielded the following results: MC-4-46-51-1-1-1-5. Stricker’s reduced schedule this year has been one of the more interesting storylines in 2013 because even though he’s pretty much cut his appearances in half, it doesn’t seem to be affecting his performance in the least. His final round 76 at the U.S. Open was one of the more surprising things that happened at Merion because of his usually remarkable consistency. I’ve got no reason to believe that Stricker’s run of good form here won’t continue.
TPC Deere Run
With recent winners like Johnson, Stricker and Jonathan Byrd, it should be no surprise that TPC Deere Run requires a high level of skill on the greens. The two holes to watch are probably the 9th, which plays as the longest par-4 on the course at 485 yards, and the closing hole, a dogleg right with a miniscule green that is guarded by both bunkers and water. Typically, players go low here, with the worst winning score being 16-under par since John Deere lent their name to the event back in 1999. For the first time in weeks, it appears that the PGA Tour should also luck out with the forecast, as there’s nothing but sunshine and a little bit of cloud cover predicted or the week.
Thoughts On The Favourites

  • Steve Stricker: We often talk about how a player loves a course, and there’s probably no better reminder of that than Stricker at TPC Deere Run, but at the price he’s currently at right now (roughly 7-1), I’ll be taking a pass.
  • Zach Johnson: Johnson may not have the reputation here that Stricker does, but in the last four years, he’s finished first, second and third to go along with a T21. He’s had a tough year, and I thought he was getting some of it back in May when he had a good PLAYERS and then nearly won at the Crowne Plaza, but his three tournaments since have been pretty rough.
  • Keegan Bradley: In a lesser quality field, Bradley’s name stands out despite the fact that he hasn’t played the course before. He’s had some high finishes in 2013, but he’s also been at the other end of the board far more often than you would have expected.
  • Louis Oosthuizen: Missed the cut here in his lone appearance in 2011, and has been dealing with neck and hip issues for most of 2013, but he had four rounds in the 60’s last week at the Greenbrier, so the hope is that he’s over those problems.
  • Ryan Moore: Moore is listed as the fifth favourite for two reasons: He finished tied for 7th in his last appearance at the Travelers and his T8 last year on this course. I like Moore, but his underachieving and inconsistency make him really tough to bet on.

Suggested Plays
Louis Oosthuizen (Best Odds 25-1 at Sky Bet)
I’ve always been a big fan of Oosthuizen and last week’s performance leads me to believe that he is starting to feel better from his neck injury. As I talked about above with Bradley, in a field short on talent, a guy like Oosthuizen stands out and at 25-1, he’s impossible to pass up.
Nick Watney (Best Odds 40-1 at bet365)
One top-10 finish in 2013 wasn’t what Watney or Nike expected, but there’s some reason for optimism here after a decent finish at the Greenbrier last week. Last year, he finally made his first cut at the John Deere, ending up in a tie for 13th. He’s been down all year, but 40-1 seems a little steep for a player with his talent on a short field.
Charles Howell III (Best Odds 66-1 at Stan James)
Howell’s coming off of back-to-back missed cuts, and they actually cost him his spot in the Open Championship next week at Muirfield. He can still get into the field with a good result here this week, and his track record here is solid, with only one of his twenty six career rounds here being over par. His ability to go low is still better than most on the PGA Tour, and he should be motivated to get back into the Open.
Matt Jones (Best Odds 66-1 at Boylesports)
Jones had back-to-back top five finishes in 2009 and 2010 here and with his runner-up finish to Jonas Blixt last week, he seems to be in good form. I’m a little concerned that he’s missed his last two cuts here, but considering the way he played last week, I’m willing to take a shot with him.
Gary Woodland (Best Odds 71-1 at BETDAQ)
Much like Howell, few in the field can go low like Woodland, and he’s starting to turn his season around a little bit. He had three straight top-20 finishes and was headed for another one until a final round 77 at the Greenbrier derailed those chances. He hasn’t played here in a couple of years, but his last time out he ended up tied for 21st in 2010.
Pat Perez (Best Odds 81-1 at BETDAQ)
We talked about Ryan Moore’s underachieving earlier and Perez deserves to be in that camp as well, but he’s been playing well in the last few weeks, with two top-10 finishes in his last three starts. He’s always been a tremendous ball striker, and with how streaky he is, you could be catching him on a good run.

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