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Jordan Spieth is poised to defend his only PGA TOUR title at this week's John Deere Classic at the …

The John Deere Classic


TPC Deere Run

Silvis, Illinois

TPC Deere Run

Yards: 7,268

Par: 71 (35-36)

Greens: Bentgrass; 8,000 square feet on average.

Stimpmeter: 11’

Rough: 3” Kentucky bluegrass

Bunkers: 78

Water Hazards: 3

Course Architect: D.A. Weibring & Chris Gray (1999); PGA Tour Design (2006-07)

Purse: $4,700,000

Winner’s Share: $845,000

FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner

Defending Champion: Jordan Spieth, 19, became the youngest player to win on TOUR since Ralph Gudahl in the early ‘30s as he defeated Zach Johnson and David Hearn in a five-hole playoff.

Dates:  July 10-13

Notes: The only way to crash the party at Hoylake is to be the highest finisher in the top five this week who hasn’t already qualified for The Open.

Recent History Lessons

After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won 23 of 34 events in 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson (TWO), Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes, Brendon Todd, Ben Crane and Kevin Streelman have won for the USA.

Adam Scott, Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch, John Senden and Jason Day, all Australians, have cashed five victories. Hideki Matsuyama joined Seung-yul Noh as the Asian representatives and Martin Kaymer now has a play pal as Justin Rose joins the European effort. Cabrera will fly the flag for South America.

S.Y. Noh, Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler, Chesson Hadley Matt Jones, Brendon Todd and Hideki Matsuyama are the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year and we’ve had nine in 34 events so far in 2014.

Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys

Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. He has been joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson (35), joined them at Riviera. Matt Every (30), Steven Bowditch (30) and Matt Jones (33), all first-timers, flew the flag before Watson picked up victory No. 2 of the year at Augusta. Since the first major, Matt Kuchar (37), J.B. Holmes (32), Adam Scott (33), Ben Crane (38), Kevin Streelman (35) and Justin Rose (33) are the prime time players to cash winner’s checks.

Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) Seung-Yul Noh (22), Martin Kaymer TWICE (29), Brendon Todd (28) and Hideki Matsuyama (22), are the twenty-somethings who have made large noise this year.

Australian John Senden (42) and Argentine Angel Cabrera (44) are the only two crusty veterans to claim victory this season.

Pay Attention: It’s FREE!

TPC Deere Run became the exclusive home to the JDC in 2000. That’s a very solid history base for gamers.

Only Steve Stricker has defended his title at TPC Deere Run. He’s does it twice as he won three straight from 2009-2011.

For the second week in a row, the TOUR makes a stop on a course that has hosted a 59. TPC Deere Run saw Paul Goydos hit the magic number in 2010. Last week, the Old White TPC reminded us of Stuart Appleby’s 59 to win in 2010.

Here are the winners at TPC Deere Run since 2000:

2000: Michael Clark -19

2001: David Gossett -19

2002: JP Hayes -22

2003: Vijay Singh -16

2004: Mark Hensby -16

2005: Sean O'Hair -16

2006: John Senden -19

2007: Jonathan Byrd -18

2008: Kenny Perry -16

2009: Steve Stricker -20

2010: Steve Stricker -26

2011: Steve Stricker -22

2012: Zach Johnson -20

2013: Jordan Spieth -19

*names in Italics are not playing this week

In the last 14 editions, five have resulted in extra holes on Sunday including the last two, to determine the champion.

Since 2000, there have been six first-time winners but only two in the last eight years (Senden, 2006; Spieth, 2013).

Steve Stricker holds the tournament record (254) at 26-under par.

Paul Goydos holds the course record with 59 in 2010.

Only 10 players have won the week before a major and have gone on to win the following week. Phil Mickelson did it last year before The Open when he won the Scottish Open in a playoff.

Speaking of the number 10, there are 10 players in the field who have already won on TOUR this season.

Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer are the only players on TOUR with multiple victories in the 2013-14.

This Will Win You a Bar Bet

Former TOUR Commissioner Deane Bemen won the first two editions of the JDC.

Inside the Ropes

As you can see above, the winning scores around this joint look like the forecast in early winter in Alaska. Birdies and bogey-avoidance are clearly the recipe for success. Steve Stricker made 31 birdies here in 2010 to set the tournament record and win by two over “Mr. 59” Paul Goydos. Daniel Summerhays made 27 of them last year yet finished T4 as he missed out on a three-man playoff. The highest winning score since the move in 2000 is 16-under. Last year was the first year in five years that the winning score dropped below 20-under.

With greens averaging 8,000 square feet, EVERYONE should be on in regulation so this means it’s time for a putting contest! The last three winners here, Stricker, Johnson and Spieth are all classified as excellent putters and short-game wedge players. There’s no wonder why they own the last five titles!

As we have seen over the years, ball-strikers can also succeed around here as Vijay Singh, Sean O’Hair have shown with wins and J.J. Henry, Chad Campbell and Lucas Glover proved to us last year with T15 or better finishes. Ball-strikers always have a chance because their strength is hitting it as close as possible as often as possible so don’t write them off.

The most successful this week will make the most birdies and avoid the most bogeys. Stricker made four bogeys in 2009, five in 2010 (three in the final round!) and three (plus a double) in 2011. Zach Johnson made 24 birdies to just five bogeys yet won his playoff with a double bogey! Jordan Spieth made five birdies on his last six holes last year to make the playoff. He circled 25 birdies against six bogeys last year. Players only have three par-five holes to play catch-up and any par-or-worse on those holes will take two birdies just to catch back up.

If you are fan of scoring, this is the week for you. If you are a fan of out and out chalk, Stricker, Johnson and Spieth should make for an interesting weekend. As we have seen with most birdie-fests, hang on to your hat because just about everyone in the field will have a chance!

Call to Order

Here they are, ranked for your pleasure.

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Steve Stricker (B): I wonder one day if they rename this tournament the Steve Stricker Invitational. This would be a perfect spot for the Midwestern, down-to-earth player who dominated on this layout, to be honored. Why? Well he finished T10 last year, T5 in 2012 and won the three years before that. I don’t even need to bring up his T4 in 2004. Or his T7 from 1997. His last 20 round have resulted in 19 under par.

Jordan Spieth (B): The breakthrough came after holing a stunning bunker shot for a birdie on the 72nd hole to force a playoff. If that ball doesn’t hit the flag and drop, it’s on its way down the river to New Orleans. Spieth instead won the playoff and was on his way to the FedExCup Playoffs, President’s Cup and a two-year exemption on TOUR. Since his T4 at THE PLAYERS, he hasn’t cracked the top 10 in five starts but four of them are T19 or better.

Zach Johnson (B): If there is anywhere he’s going to break out it’s going to be the tournament where he sits on the board of directors. His last five starts at JDC aren’t as good as Stricker’s but they’re pretty freaking good. He was P2 last year, a winner in 2012, T3 in 2011, T21 in 2010 and T2 in 2009. Go ahead and make it TWENTY rounds in a row in the 60s! That’s insane and gamers just can’t expect that to continue. Especially from a guy who hasn’t had TWO rounds in the 60s in the same tournament since Honda in early March.

Kevin Na (C): He had his worst finish of the year last week but didn’t shoot over 71; He enters the week 11th adjusted scoring because he DESTROYS par fours and fives and can really roll the rock.

Chris Stroud (C): He bounced back into the top 10 last week at Greenbrier with T4 and makes tons of birdies because of his putter and short game. He sits 24th in birdie-or-better (BOB) conversion and 10th in birdie average. #tweettweet

John Senden (C): The 2006 champ has finishes T12 in 2010, T4 in 2012 interspersed with a few MCs. The John Senden of even last year doesn’t hold a candle to what the Aussie is doing in 2014. He’s 10th in the all-around because of his ball-striking AND excellent putter.

Harris English (C): After a VERY quiet spring and early summer for gamers, English finally returned to the top 10 with T7 at TPC River Highlands last time out. If he’s ninth in birdie average ninth in adjusted scoring and eighth in par-breakers, I’m not hopping of this week! In his first trip last summer he put all four rounds at 69 to finish T15.

Chris Kirk (B): He ran out of gas in the final round last year with 72 after beginning the final round at 14-under. In the midst of a career-year in 2014 gamers should love him this week because kills par fours and fives. If his putter sharpens up he could be the one to beat.

Billy Hurley III (C): In 2012 he began Sunday T5 just two shots out of first and fired 70 to finish T8. He was the 54-hole leader by two shots last weekend before fading to T4. He’s coming off back-to-back top 10s (T8, T4) and has made seven cuts on the bounce. He’s going to hit every fairway and plenty of greens so he’ll have another chance to continue his solid play again this week.

Ryan Moore (A): His first start of the summer saw him bounce back into the top 10 for the first time since WMPO at the Travelers. His two best finishes in 2014 have been on TPC courses (T6, WMPO; T4, Travelers) because he has no problem pasting fairways and he’s an excellent putter. He destroys par fours and has finished T8 and T22 in his the last two years at JDC at 27-under.

Cameron Tringale (B): Last week I pleaded that he throw gamers a bone and he sure did with T4 at The Greenbrier. He was T9 three years ago at JDC in his last start so his course history meets current form and that means FANTASY DISASTER. I’m guessing with his trip booked to Hoylake that he either: withdraws or takes it deep this weekend. He’s 21 for 26 in 2014 and played the last five weekends on TOUR. Tringale WD Monday afternoon.

Kevin Streelman (B): He awoke from his slumber with a stellar 64-64 to close out his victory at the Travelers. Cabrera used 64-64 last week to win at Greenbrier and it wouldn’t surprise me if that was needed again this week. He’s 11th in par-four BOB and is worth a look in this thin field.

Bud Cauley (C): I’m going to connect some dots here. His three best finishes this season are on TPC courses (T11, Louisiana; T11, River Highlands; T4 Old White) where he’s a combined 31-under. That might be the number to post to win this week! He’s made over half of his money this year in his last three events so I’m going to play the hot hand along with the trend. He’ll be a steal again this week in the GC game in Group 4.

Just Missed

Daniel Summerhays: The 54-hole leader last year on 19-under, Summerhays missed a par putt on the final hole that would have put him in a playoff with Spieth, Johnson and Hearn. He followed that performance up the following week with a playoff loss to Woody Austin at Sanderson Farms. He made 27 birdies, including a third round 62, to finish T4.

Scott Langley: Another Illinois native (Barrington) who played at Illinois, Langley is making his third start at JDC. Coming off T11 and T26 in his last two starts, the lefty is flashing some form. In his last eight rounds, he has nothing over 71.

David Hearn: He’ll be looked over this week because of his closing 76 last Sunday that took him from T12 to T64. I remember that it was his tournament in a month so I’ll chalk it up to knocking off the rust. Over the last two years, four of his last five rounds have been 66 or better. #allaboard

Brendon de Jonge: He’s made nine cuts on the bounce and before his T54 here last year was T19, T7 and T7 in his previous three at JDC. I’m nervous this week because this tournament is in Illinois which doesn’t fit his regional playing this year. His best finishes are all in North Carolina/Virginia, but NOT West Virginia. It’s hard in such a soft field to ignore a guy who’s made 19 weekends from 24 this year.

Patrick Rodgers: After finishing T15 here last year as an amateur, he should be raring to go this week. He’s three-for-three since turning pro after the NCAA championships and will be looking to pull a “Jordan Spieth” this season. He has the talent to do so and is worth a look in a slim field this week as he’s played five of six rounds here in the 60s.

Hudson Swafford: The rookie is navigating the waters of the big boy TOUR and has finally made three cuts in a row after his T52 at The Greenbrier last week. Gamers will remind me that he was T12 heading into Sunday before 74 wiped him out of contention. No birdies on Sunday ever helps and that is his second week in a row of 74 to close. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt as he’s in uncharted territory and has excellent pedigree. This is the type of tournaments that youngsters believe they can win because of the light field.

Russell Henley: In his first TOUR event EVER, he was 24-under at the Sony Open and won. Since his T7 at SHO, he’s only made three of his last eight cuts but I’ll take my chances on a guy who can get white hot with the putter.

Will Wilcox: It’s hard not to like a guy who has shot a 59 before on a course where a guy has shot 59 before. Last week, he was T4 at Greenbrier, home of Stuart Appleby’s 59. Now, he tries to emulate Paul Goydos this week at the JDC.

Chad Campbell: He’s six for his last six at JDC with zero rounds above par and only five rounds in the 70s. His best finishes are T15 twice and T7. He had made four cuts in a row before missing by one last week at the Greenbrier.

Jason Bohn: I love him in a birdie-fest. His best results are always on big-time, under-par tracks. This qualifies. Shhhhhhhhhhhh.

Long Shots/Sleepers/Course Horses

Morgan Hoffmann: The one thing I’ve learned about the up-and-comers is consistency is about the last thing that comes along in their games. After five top 35s in eight starts, Hoffmann has made two of his last five with finishes of T67 and T71. I’ll take a flier on a kid who fired 63-64 Friday and Saturday here last year en route to T15.

Scott Brown: He’s two-for-two in his only two trips with solo seventh in 2012 and T22 last year. He opened with 70 in 2012 and 71 last year so do the math.

J.J. Henry: He’s played the weekend the last five years and was T7 last year, T13 in 2012 and T5 in 2009. He and Chad Campbell are the proof that veteran ball-strikers can navigate this track. He’s made eight of his last 10 cuts on TOUR but only one went for better than T39 (T13, FESJC).

Tim Clark: He’s put 15 of 16 career rounds under par on this track and has solo second, T7 and T18 to show for it. He was T36 his last time out in 2012.

Troy Matteson: This will be his ninth consecutive start at the JDC. He’s made six of the last eight weekends including P2 to Zach Johnson in 2012 where he opened with 61. He also was T3 in 2007 and T10 in 2010. Hell, in 2008 he shot 77-64 to MC! High risk equals even higher reward!

Lucas Glover: After doing absolutely nothing last year leading up to the JDC he showed up and opened 68-62 and eventually finished T15. I’d take a T15 in any format right now so I won’t completely dismiss him.

Luke Guthrie: The Quincy, Ill., native has essentially a home game this week in the Quad Cities. After opening with 65 and closing with 64 in his first attempt in 2012 for T5, he MC last year with 76-67. In six rounds four have been 68 or lower. In a thin field, that’s an angle.

Retief Goosen: He’s made nine cuts on the bounce and can really putt. If you need a guy to make a cut this week in deeper formats, here’s your guy. Just remember HE HAS NO CHANCE OF WINNING so remember that as well.

Davis Love III: He showed signs of life last week with an opening 67 and Saturday 65 and this is an easier course. He knows he needs a W to play at Hoylake.

Steve Marino: He hit is conditional status by $174 last week at Greenbrier with T11. He closed with 66-67. He should be full of confidence and relief. That’s a powerful combination.

Troy Merritt: The Osage, Iowa native also is playing a home game this week. After his solo second at FESJC he racked up T16 last week at Greenbrier with 68-67 weekend for his second very solid start in four tries.

Sang-moon Bae: An excellent putter who closed 66-67 last week for T16.

David Lingmerth: He carded all four rounds in the 60s last week. We’re scraping here but at least it’s something tangible.

Fade

Every week in this column I break somebody out of a funk. At Greenbrier, it was Keegan Bradley. #urwelcome

John Merrick: In five starts his best finish is T39.

Pat Perez: In his last eight at JDC, he’s WD twice, been cut three times and his best finish is T30.

Camilo Villegas: Nothing inside of T47 in five starts.

Charlie Wi: In six events he’s posted T4 and T15 and four MCs. I’ll let my opponents have him.

James Driscoll: An excellent putter, Driscoll is just two from six with T56 and T60 to show for it.

Jordan Spieth of the Week Last Week

The column was taken over and thrashed by the kid from Texas last year. Out of respect, I’m not changing the title of it for 2013-14. It will remind me just how good Spieth was in the last three months of the season. This year, we’ll still identify an up-and-coming player and/or rookie that fantasy players should have on their radar.

Frys.com: Hideki Matsuyama, T3; Brooks Koepka, T3; Max Homa, T9.

SHCO: Ryo Ishikawa is only 22, don’t forget, T2; Chesson Hadley, T5.

CIMB: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, 24, might have enough money after this week to earn Special Temporary Membership. Pay attention!

WGC-HSBC: Jordan Spieth was 17th. Tommy Fleetwood (T18) is only 22 and plays in Europe. Matsuyama WD with a bad back.

McGladrey: Scott Langley turned 24 last April and is in his second season on TOUR. He finished T22 last week and No. 124 last season. #slimpickinngsthisweek

OHL Mayakoba: Harris English turned 24 last July. He won.

HTOC:  Er, Jordan Spieth, solo second.

Sony: Hudson Swafford and Will Wilcox both finished T8. Both played on the Web.com Tour last year and are rookies on TOUR this season.

Humana: Patrick Reed won. He’s 23. You need to pay attention.

FIO: Ryo Ishikawa, 22, bagged another top 10 finish. That’s his sixth in his last 10 events on TOUR or the Web.com Tour. He’s an alternate this week as of Monday afternoon.

WMPO: Hideki Matsuyama is 21. In 11 events the last two years, he’s hit the top 25 in NINE of them, including T4 last week. #ALLRIGHTYTHEN

Pebble Beach: Er, Jordan Spieth, T4. Patrick Reed, 23, finished T13 and he’s won twice since August. Golf is good hands, again.

Riviera: Harris English won’t be 25 until July. He was T10; Spieth was T12.

WGC-Match Play: Victor Dubuisson is 23 and was second. Jordan Spieth was T5. #youthmovement

Honda: Russell Henley is now the fourth player on TOUR under 25 with two wins. He joins Patrick Reed, Harris English and Rory McIlroy in this very elite club of pups.

WGC-CC: Patrick Reed is 23. He’s now won three times in eight months on TOUR.

Puerto Rico Open: Rookie Chesson Hadley, 26, took home his first title on the big boy circuit.

Valspar: Chesson Hadley backed up his first win with T14 on a tough, tough Copperhead Course. Scott Langley, a second year player from Illinois (see above) was third.

API: The young Japanese lad Ishikawa racked up another top 10 (T8) this week. Yep, he’s still just 22.

Valero: He’ll be remembered for all of the wrong reasons but Andrew Loupe, 25, finished T4 in only his eighth start on TOUR. #slowgolfclap

Shell Houston: Russell Henley’s T7 shows him heating up before heading back for another crack at Augusta.

Masters: That Jordan Spieth guy was T2.

RBC Heritage: John Huh, T3, is a TOUR winner but is only 23 years old. Remember?

Zurich: The winner was 22-year old Seung-Yul Noh. He fits this column to a T.

Wells Fargo: Defending champ Derek Ernst was T30. He’ll turn 24 on May 15.

THE PLAYERS: That pesky Spieth was tied for the 54-hole lead and finished T4.

HPBNC: T16 was the best the youth could muster with John Huh, who turns 24 on Wednesday.

Colonial: Second-year player David Lingmerth poked his head up again with T5 to lead the youngsters. Hideki Matsuyama, who co-led after 54-holes, finished T10.

Memorial: Matsuyama must be a quick study. He was the 54-hole leader at Colonial yet finished T10. He took it deep this week with his first victory on TOUR, in a playoff, nonetheless. #impressive

FESJC: Brooks Koepka continues to rack up non-Member points and his T19 this week added to that.

U.S. Open: For the second consecutive week Koepka has the spotlight and deservedly so after T4. With Matsuyama, Spieth and Koepka, the future looks quite bright for the TOUR.

Travelers: Bud Cauley (remember him?) and Scott Langley were T11. Langley held the 36-hole lead.

Quicken Loans: Spieth and Reed both were T11. John Huh was T19.

The Greenbrier: Even though it is his third year on TOUR, Cauley is just 24. No point forgetting about him now as he’s bagged T11 and T4 in two of his last three.

 

Coming Later TUESDAY Afternoon

Playing the Tips will be up and running this and every Tuesday afternoon and will list all of the Rotoworld experts picks in the GolfChannel.com game, the Yahoo! Fantasy Golf game and my One-and-Done feature. Look for it around 6ET every Tuesday for the rest of the season.

Coming Wednesday

And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat Wednesday at NOON p.m. ET. We will be breaking down the field at the JDC and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter.

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