Johnson can take his opportunity in Illinois.
Whilst the golfing world’s elite start to gather at St Andrews a number of potential Open challengers and the PGA Tour’s ‘under card’ gather in Illinois to play the John Deere Classic. The Top 8 in the betting all have their passports and packing in-place so that they can board their private charter and fly into Edinburgh on Monday morning. Defending champion Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson, Tim Clark, K.J. Choi, Jeff Overton, Rickie Fowler, Kenny Perry and Bubba Watson, will all be looking forward to the challenge of the Old Course at St Andrews and will be honing their games to be able to compete next week.
Now that raises a very valid question with me. Will these players therefore be giving it there all to win at TPC Deere Run over the weekend? Well Steve Stricker won here last year before jetting across to Prestwick so the answer could well be yes. However Stricker was in ‘white hot’ form in 2009 and carried that through to win in Illinois, before placing a disappointing 52nd at Turnberry. 2008 John Deere winner Kenny Perry won knowing that he wasn’t going to The Open. Instead the Kentuckian who was totally focussed on getting onto the US Ryder Cup team gave up his Open invitation to play the Milwaukee based US Open Championship.
The answer is we really don’t know but I’d hazard a guess that players like Jeff Overton, Rickie Fowler and Michael Sim will be seeing this week as a ‘major’ (sorry couldn’t resist) opportunity to win their first ever PGA Tour tournament, whilst K.J. Choi and Kenny Perry would be happy to pocket their first PGA titles of 2010.
Iowa’s most famous sporting son will be focussed on winning this week in deepest Illinois. Why? Well think it through. Look at his Open Championship record then look at his current position in the race to get on the US Ryder Cup team. A win this week against a very ‘regular’ PGA Tour field and Zach will be locked in for Celtic Manor. The current 18/1 looks like real value to me. Experience of this free scoring course is a vital make-up of previous winners (this will be Zach’s 9th appearance) and Johnson’s bent grass green record is exemplary. Add to that an upturn in recent form that includes victory at Colonial and I’m finding it difficult to refuse passing up Johnson this week. RESULT: T21
Campbell is as short as 33s elsewhere and I can see why. Its fact that Campbell’s game based around superb ball striking fits the bill perfectly for TPC Deere Run, where low scoring is a pre-requisite. Indeed Chad’s visit to ‘dairy’ country yielded a 7th in 2008 and 15th last year, not a bad return from 3 appearances. Campbell who is a 4 time PGA Tour winner also fits the bill in terms of where he has won. His 4 titles came with winning scores of -13, -16, -18 & -23, so we know he can go low. Then we have the Ryder Cup! After a quite shocking opening 5 months to 2010, Campbell who has been in the past 3 US teams still has a shot at making Celtic Manor. A win here will boost Campbell into the Top 15 in the RC standings. A Top 5 and he gets on the plane bound for St Andrews. TPC Deere run has a habit of throwing up first time PGA Tour winners. Australasian players also have a habit of playing and winning here. With ‘most likely’ Jason Day and Baddeley covered off as Predictor Picks 1 & 3 this week I thought I’d pack my team with a couple of less fancied but hungry Australians who I feel can go well this week. RESULT: T34
Jones fits the bill perfectly for one of the berths as he finished 5th here 12 months ago. Arizona based Jones is having the best season of his short PGA Tour career and has 4 Top 10 finishes to his name already. 7th at Quail Hollow jumps from the page as does 13th last time out at The Travelers so young Mr Jones is in good nick. Link that to Matt’s liking for Michigan and Illinois fast bent green courses and I can see some real Each Way value with the New South Wales born Aussie. Please note - the 888 'No lose' bet expires this weekend so take advantage now! RESULT: 5th
11th on his first visit to the John Deere was a decent result for Michael Sim in 2007. 3 years on Sim is now looking forward to his first visit to play in his ‘homeland’ at St Andrews and encounter his first of many Open Championships. Fighting back from a 2 month injury in March Sim has started to perform noticeably consistently of late without being able to take the final step to contending. Sim’s form curve is in the ascendancy and 21st at The Travelers was a decent step in the right direction. Sim will contend as he did at Torrey Pines in February, sooner rather than later and I wouldn’t be surprised if he chooses this week to sharpen his game for his trip to Scotland. RESULT: Missed Cut
‘Mr Inconsistent’ guarantees a couple of things. Firstly you know very quickly on Thursday if he fancies the job ahead and secondly superb payouts when he delivers. Fact is Rollins is a 3 time PGA Tour winner who has a knack of winning ‘regular’ Tour events where fields are not the strongest. Another fascinating fact about the Texas domiciled Virginian is that all 3 wins and in general most of his contending performances come on bent grass greens like those at TPC Deer Run. Let s not dress it up, Rollins isn’t motivated by ‘majors’ or the Ryder Cup, instead he’s a decent journey man who plays well at particular tracks and maximises returns from them. With 2 Top 10s from 4 appearances at the John Deere Classic, bent grass greens and a relatively weak field I can see John fancying the job this week. RESULT: Missed Cut
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Odds and bookmaker offers correct 19:45BST 6.7.10 but naturally subject to fluctuation.