First off, I want to defend myself for my selections last week for the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia. It was a tough tournament to call because it was only the third annual event and the course changed radically after Year 1 to Year 2. I follow golf pretty intently, but I couldn’t pick Sunday’s Greenbrier winner Ted Potter Jr. out of a lineup. Ditto for runner-up Troy Kelly, third-place Charlie Beljan, fifth-place Daniel Summerhays … well, you get my drift. It was just one of those weeks on Tour.
On my Top-10 picks a week ago, I badly missed on Tiger Woods finishing inside it as he missed the cut. I think he just took his appearance fee (or however you want to word it to get around the PGA Tour’s prohibition on appearance fees) and went home. Ditto for Phil Mickelson, who also missed the cut. At least I predicted Lefty to finish outside the Top 10, as I did Steve Stricker, who finished T22. I took a major flier on unknown Jimmy Walker to win at 50/1, but he missed the cut too.
100% bonus up to $500
at GT Bets
Speaking of Stricker, he is by far and away the story at this week’s John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. Pretty much every top player in the world is taking this week off in the States to prepare for next week’s British Open. The Euro Tour’s Scottish Open, frankly, has a better field than the Deere. There are 21 players set to tee it up next week at Lytham who are playing in Illinois.
History can be made if Stricker, the highest-ranked player in the world in this tournament at No. 13, wins the Deere for the fourth year in a row. A player winning an event four straight years has happened to just five golfers: Young Tom Morris at the British Open from 1868-1872 (no tournament in 1871); Walter Hagen at the PGA Championship from 1924-27; Gene Sarazen at the Miami Open in 1926 and 1928-30; and Tiger Woods twice, at Bay Hill from 2000-03 and the Buick Invitational from 2005-08. Tiger technically won the WGC-Bridgestone four straight times but after winning three straight missed the 2008 event before returning and winning again in ’09.
Look for low scores this week. Stricker’s scoring average over his last 12 rounds here is 65.33. That includes a 61 in 2009 and a 60 in 2010, a year that Paul Goydos shot 59 at the Deere. The scoring average of 69.608 was the fourth-easiest of 11 par 71s used in non-majors last year. All of the 12 champions at the Deere scored 16-under 268 or lower.
Bettors do get a rare chance to wager on John Daly this week (he’s 125/1 to win). And that might not be as ridiculous as one thinks. In six starts on the PGA Tour this year, Daly has made five cuts, including a T-12 last week, closing with a 5-under 65.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: John Deere Classic Favorites
Take a wild guess on the favorite: Stricker is at 7/1 on Bovada. Considering he is 68-under combined at the Deere the past three years, that makes a bit of sense. However, Stricker doesn’t have a Top-10 finish this year since New Orleans at the end of April.
Zach Johnson is next at 12/1. He was runner-up to Stricker in 2009 and finished third last year (T21 in 2010). But he’s not playing great right now. Since winning at Colonial, he has a missed cut and T41 and T64 finishes.
Nick Watney is next at 20/1. The previous three times he played this tournament Watney missed the cut – but the last time he did tee it up here was in 2008. I’m rather stunned he doesn’t have a win yet in 2012. But he might be getting it together as he was a solid T21 at the U.S. Open and then 10th at the AT&T National.
Closing out the Top-5 favorites at 25/1 are Jonathan Byrd and Ryan Palmer. Byrd won here in 2007 and has made the cut in seven consecutive starts this year, which includes five Top 25s. Byrd did miss the cut at the Deere in 2011. Palmer has never had a Top-10 finish in seven previous tries at this event. But the guy is playing great right now, with four straight finishes of T15 or better.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: John Deere Classic Predictions
Call it a hunch, but I don’t even like a Top-10 finish for Stricker, which would pay at +125. I don’t for Johnson, either, which is at -155. I do like Watney in the Top 10 at +165. Ditto for Byrd at +250.
Since I don’t like Stricker or Johnson in the Top 10, obviously I don’t think either wins. Brandon De Jonge is interesting at 33/1. He sat two strokes off the lead at last year's John Deere before posting his second consecutive share of seventh place.
Charles Howell III at 40/1 also is worth a look. He was T5 here a year ago, his second Top-5 career finish at the Deere. But I like another CH at 40/1 to win: Charley Hoffman. He didn’t play the Deere in 2011 but was T7 and T15 the previous two years. Yeah, he didn’t play well last week but was runner-up at the Travelers less than a month ago.
Doc’s Sports is offering $60 worth of member’s picks absolutely free – no obligation, no sales people – you don’t even have to enter credit card information. You can use this $60 credit any way you please for any handicapper and any sport on Doc’s Sports Advisory Board list of expert sports handicappers. Click here for more details and take advantage of this free $60 picks credit today.