Golf Odds and Predictions: John Deere Classic
by Alan Matthews - 7/10/2013
Well, yet another swing and a miss on my PGA Tour recommendations this year as I remain stuck on one victory. At least I was well aware of who Swede Jonas Blixt was, with him taking the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia on Sunday. It was still a surprise. Yes, Blixt won once last year as a rookie but entering the Greenbrier Classic, he hadn’t had a top-10 finish yet this season, missing as many cuts as he made. He will now get to play in next week's British Open as well as the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.
The top finishers at Greenbrier were mostly no-names. One thing I got right was betting against Phil Mickelson as I didn't think he'd be over the U.S. Open. It was his third straight missed cut at The Greenbrier. He was the 12/1 favorite. Thus I hit my suggested bet on Webb Simpson at -110 head-to-head over Mickelson.
I did mention Jimmy Walker was great value at 55/1 to win and he finished T2. So I hit him head-to-head at -120 over Charles Howell III and at a stellar +425 to finish in the Top 10. Ultimately I went with Brendon de Jonge, who finished T17. I also nailed Scott Stallings at -115 over Scott Piercy. So all in all, it wasn’t all bad. Walker's payout was the best all year on a Top 10.
With the British Open up next, most of the big-name players are already overseas working on their games in the unique weather/links conditions. Thus, only six of the world's Top 30 are playing the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill this week. The past four champions of this event are teeing it up, but that's just two guys: Zach Johnson (last year) and Steve Stricker (the previous three). Johnson beat Troy Matteson in a playoff in 2012. Stricker was in the hunt, seeking to become the fifth player ever to win four straight years at one tournament, before bogeys at Nos. 15 and 16 on Sunday. He remains the last player to win a tournament three straight years.
Louis Oosthuizen is the highest-ranked player in the world. Remember David Duval and Todd Hamilton? They are playing on sponsor exemptions as warm-ups to the British Open, which they both won (seemingly forever ago). A total of 22 players who will compete in the British Open will play this week. The John Deere made a great decision a few years back by paying for a charter flight across the pond for those who do play and then must travel to Great Britain. Otherwise this tournament would probably be a ghost town for highly-ranked pros.
Expect very low scores as this par-71 course, which has allowed the most birdies on Tour in the past two years. Paul Goydos shot a 59 at the John Deere in 2010 and Stricker holds the tournament record at 258 (2010). The average winning score is around 16 under. Yeah, this isn't Merion. The winner this week will book a trip to the British Open if not already eligible and it looks like a wide open field.
Golf Odds: John Deere Classic Favorites
At WagerWeb, Stricker is the +650 favorite and no surprise there. In his last 16 rounds at this tournament, he's averaging a cool 65.75 strokes. He's playing for the first time since faring quite well at Merion. This might seem like a mini-golf course after that.
Johnson is +1400 to repeat. He has shot under par in his past 16 rounds at this tournament. You could almost see last year's win coming (I did). Johnson tied for second in 2009 and tied for third in 2011.
Keegan Bradley (+1800), Oosthuizen (+2000) and Ryan Moore (+2600) round out the Top 5. Bradley has never played this tournament. He was T18 last time out at the Travelers but has missed the cut three times in his the past six tournaments. Oosthuizen was T17 last week after missing the cut at the U.S. Open. Moore has made the cut in all four previous John Deere events and was T8 a year ago. He is feast or famine, however, missing six cuts this year.
Golf Odds: John Deere Picks
On the Top-10 props, I have to take Stricker (-165) and Johnson (+125). Also like John Senden (+350), whose only PGA Tour win was at this event in 2006. Head-to-head, go with Johnson (-105) over Bradley (-125), de Jonge (-155) over Blixt (+125) and D.A. Points (-110) over Ken Duke (-120).
Kevin Streelman is interesting at +5000 to win. He finished T8 here last year, his second Top 10 at the John Deere. Yes, he's missed four straight cuts but was red-hot before that. Maybe a return to this course shakes things up.
But I like Oosthuizen to win. He had been a bit off because of injury and the birth of a child but seems like he's focused in now. And for what it's worth, he's an avid farmer back in South Africa and, yes, loves his John Deere tractors.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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