PGA Tour Picks: John Deere Classic Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 7/9/2014
For anyone who says that golfers are athletes, I give you Argentine Angel Cabrera. That said, "El Pato" is one of my favorite golfers because Cabrera is usually boom or bust, and he generally looks like he's having a ball regardless. Cabrera, 44, came pretty much from nowhere last week at the Greenbrier Classic by two shots over George McNeill. Cabrera put up matching 64s on the weekend, including an eagle hole out on No. 13 Sunday, to finish at 16-under 264 for his third Tour victory. The others: 2007 U.S. Open and 2009 Masters. I wouldn't rule him out from winning next week at the British Open, either. Cabrera made it 5-for-5 in guys winning the Greenbrier when playing it the first time.
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I have to say I was rooting for McNeill to win when it came out that his gravely ill sister had passed away about 20 minutes before the Florida native teed off Sunday. McNeill still managed to shoot 61 and had the clubhouse lead. However, Cabrera still had the back nine to play, and the Old White TPC course wasn't one of those that was going to beat a guy down. On the bright side for McNeill, he did earn a British Open spot with his runner-up. So did Chris Stroud, Cameron Tringale and third-round leader Billy Hurley III.
Obviously, I didn't pick Cabrera to win. I liked Brendon de Jonge at 33/1 for his first Tour win, but he disappointed with a T64. None of my Top-10 props hit, with Jimmy Walker surprisingly missing the cut. I did say I liked Brendon Todd for one and he finished T4, but there was no Top-10 option for him at Bovada when I wrote the story. Head-to-head, I hit on Bill Haas at -125 over Steve Stricker.
That was about it. Stricker, incidentally, withdrew from the British Open this week. I mention that because Stricker has had a ton of success at this week's Tour Stop, the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill., right on the Iowa border. There is one British Open spot available this week to the highest top-five finisher if not already qualified. It's very weak field with most of the big names either practicing in Europe or playing this week's Scottish Open (including Phil Mickelson, who won that last year and then the British Open).
Last year, Jordan Spieth won this tournament at age 19, becoming the youngest winner on Tour since 1931. He beat defending champion Zach Johnson and David Hearn on a five-hole sudden-death playoff. Spieth had been just a special temporary member on Tour, but the win got him full membership. I doubt he will have to worry about that ever again. Johnson would have won again if not for a bogey on his 72nd hole. Spieth holed a greenside bunker shot on his 72nd hole to get into the playoff. He attempted the same shot on Monday at media day and also made it.
In order to get a halfway decent field, the tournament provides a charter jet to fly any British Open participants overseas on Sunday night. A total of 18 players this week at the John Deere are due to play next as well. It will take a low score to win the John Deere. Speith's 19 under last year was the highest since 2008. Paul Goydos shot a first-round 59 here in 2010 yet still didn't win. Stricker did at a tournament-record 26-under.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: John Deere Classic Favorites
Spieth is the 10/1 favorite to repeat , and while I rarely say it's a wise bet on someone to repeat, it hasn't been proven to be impossible here. In what I guess you could call a mini-slump for this super-talented 20-year-old, he hasn't had a Top 10 in his past five events, although he has had four Top 20s. I think the Texas Swing might have screwed him up slightly because he so badly wanted to win in his hometown of Dallas.
Stricker is 11/1 and he won this tournament from 2009-11. His last two years aren't too shabby, either: Top 10 in 2013 and T5 the year before. Stricker clearly feels comfortable playing in the Midwest, where he's from. The semi-retired Stricker has just one Top 10 in eight events this year.
Johnson is 12/1, then there's a drop off to Ryan Moore (20/1) and Harris English (22/1). In addition to his 2012 win and runner-up last year, Johnson also finished runner-up in 2009 and T3 in 2011. He hails from nearby Cedar Rapids. Moore, my pick to win a few weeks ago, has Top-25 finishes here the past two years. English has slowed down after a tremendous start to the season but was T7 in his last event, the Travelers Championship.
PGA Tour Picks: John Deere Classic Predictions
On the Top-10 props, take Spieth (-110), Johnson (+110) and Moore (+180). I just think Stricker has played enough (or well enough) for a good finish. Head-to-head take Spieth (-130) over Stricker (even money), Johnson (-110) over Stricker (-120), Moore (-115) over English (-115) and Chris Kirk (-105) over Kevin Na (-125). I like Greg Chalmers at 6/1 as the top Australasian and Rory Sabbatini at +275 as the top South African.
There aren't a ton of props on this tournament, no doubt because of the field quality and with a major on deck. A Johnson/Stricker prop against the field would be interesting. No doubt an American wins as it has seven straight years and the non-American field is weak. I'm going with Johnson as the winner. He's not playing great right now, but playing close to home will change all that.
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