Last week was about the newsiest on the PGA Tour in a long time. First, you had Nike dropping the bombshell that it would be leaving the golf equipment business but still make apparel. So what does that mean for guys like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who are under contract? Obviously they can't be obligated to play old Nike clubs and balls.
And then on Sunday at the Travelers Championship, Jim Furyk shot an amazing and record 58 but didn't even win the tournament. No other Tour player had ever shot better than 59 in a round of competition, although a Web.com Tour guy (Stephen Jaeger) recently also had a 58. Furyk, who plays Callaway clubs, if that's important for you to know, was one of only six players to have previously carded a 59 on the PGA Tour. He hit every single green in regulation Sunday at TPC River Highlands outside Hartford. But it was still only good for T5 at 11-under 269 overall on the par-70 course. Furyk entered Sunday in 70th place. Furyk made the turn in 8-under 27, one shot shy of Corey Pavin's Tour-record 26 at the 2006 U.S. Bank Championship. I kid you not, Furyk could have shot 56 as he missed two very makeable birdie putts on the back nine.
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Your winner was Scotland's Russell Knox at 14-under 266, never shooting worse than 68, which was his final-round score. He drained a 12-foot par putt on the 72nd hole to beat out Jerry Kelly for his second career Tour win. He also won the WGC-HSBC Champions overseas earlier this season. Knox, the fifth player with multiple wins this season, now has a pretty good chance of making the Great Britain & Ireland Ryder Cup team. Kelly, who attended the University of Hartford, at least assured himself of a spot in the FedEx Cup playoff-opening Barclays with his runner-up, moving from No. 138 in the points to 63rd.
I didn't even touch on Knox last week. I liked two-time winner Bubba Watson, who was the betting favorite at Bovada. He finished T25. Also missed on Top 10s for Matt Kuchar and Ryan Moore. Hit a few head-to-head props, but that was about it.
So there are two events this week, the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill., and the men's golf tournament at the Rio Olympics. I'll be honest in that I'm probably not informed enough to make an educated guess on who wins gold in Rio. The course is brand new and obviously so is golf back in the Olympics, so I have little to go on. Plus several big names are skipping it. I think golf officials made a mistake making it a regular 72-hole regular event. It needs to be something unique, maybe a match play/stroke play combo or team event or something. Sweden's Henrik Stenson is the +500 favorite and should be with the way he's playing. Rickie Fowler has the shortest odds of any American at +1400.
The defending champion of the John Deere is Jordan Spieth. He beat Tom Gillis (who?) in two playoff holes to notch his second win at TPC Deere Run. They both finished 72 holes at 20-under 264. Spieth had started Sunday with a two-shot lead, but Gillis shot a 7-under 64 in the final round. Spieth also won the event in 2013 for his first PGA Tour victory. Spieth chose to skip the Olympics but thought it would look bad if he did that -- i.e. pass on playing for free for your country instead for a money grab -- and then played this tournament. And he's probably right. So he's not.
Thus, it's one of the weakest fields of the year with Zach Johnson, who is from that Quad Cities area (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), the highest-ranked player at No. 22 in the world. This is the first time since 2003 that this tournament is not the week before the British Open. It will go back to that spot on the schedule in 2017. By the way, one of those 59s was shot here by Paul Goydos in 2010.
Golf Odds: John Deere Classic Favorites
Johnson is the +650 favorite at Bovada. He won here in 2012 at 20-under, beating Troy Matteson in a playoff. Johnson definitely likes this course and is on the board for this tournament. He was third here last year and hasn't finished worse than third at the JDC since 2010 and he plays every year. Johnson was T47 last week.
Jon Rahm and Steve Stricker are each +1200. I honestly never heard of Rahm, a Spaniard, until a few weeks ago when he was a co-runner-up at the Canadian Open. His only other official pro tournament was the Quicken Loans National in June, and he was T3 there. He's on special temporary status and was 25th last week. Stricker won this tournament three straight years starting in 2009. That's the last time any player won any tournament three years in a row. Stricker was 42nd in his last tournament, the PGA Championship. He was 35th here in 2015.
Kevin Na (+2000), Daniel Summerhays and Moore (both +2200) round out the favorites. Na has played here once and was 13th in 2014. Summerhays was eighth last year and 11th last week. Moore has two Top 10s here this decade.
Golf Odds: John Deere Classic Picks
For a Top 10, I like Johnson (-175), Scott Brown (+600), who has two Top 10s here since 2012 and Matt Jones (+500), who has three Top 7s in the JDC since 2009. Head-to-head, go with Johnson (-200) over Rahm (+160), Moore (-115) over Summerhays (-115), Brian Harman (-115), the 2014 champion, over Robert Streb (-115), Patrick Rodgers (-115) over Kelly (-115), and Jones (-115) over Hudson Swafford (-115). Johnson is pretty clearly the best player in the field and he's right at home on this course, so he's the pick.
I don't want to totally ignore the Olympics so I'll go with Justin Rose at +1000 to win gold. Take Patrick Reed at +250 as top American finisher.
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