Xander Schauffele. Now that's a name! Sounds almost like a James Bond villain or something. You might not have heard of the 23-year-old unless you follow golf pretty intently. He became somewhat well known with a Top 5 finish at the U.S. Open at Erin Hills earlier this month. On Sunday, Schauffele, who turned pro in 2015, got his first win by taking the Greenbrier Classic with a birdie on the 72nd hole at the Old White Course in West Virginia.
Schauffele started the day three shots behind Sebastian Munoz, but the 54-hole leader stumbled. On the 18th hole Sunday, Schauffele hit his approach on the par-3 within 4 feet of the hole and made the birdie. That put him at 14-under and a shot ahead of Robert Streb, who was unable to birdie either 17 or 18 to force a playoff. Schauffele is now exempt on the PGA Tour through 2019 and into the next three major championships, including the 2018 Masters.
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Schauffele wasn't the only one to earn a spot in next week's British Open. Streb, Munoz and Jamie Lovemark did as well. Munoz will be playing in his first career major championship. Russell Henley was the only player among the Greenbrier Top 10 finishers who already was in the British Open. A few guys at the European Tour's Irish Open also earned spots.
I didn't touch on Schauffele at the Greenbrier Classic. He was the third rookie to earn his first Tour victory in West Virginia and the fourth overall. I took a prop on Keegan Bradley and Bubba Watson at +1400 vs. the field. Neither came close to contending. I missed on a Top 10 for Webb Simpson (+190) by a single shot. Same for Jimmy Walker (+350) by two.
So this week it's the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. As usual, it's a weak field with most guys who are in the Open already overseas. Some years back, this tournament, in an effort to lure more big names, chartered a plane to fly any guys who are playing in the Open over there on Sunday night. There is one more spot open for that major to the highest John Deere Top 5 finisher if not already qualified. Six PGA Tour winners from this season are entered. A total of 15 entrants already are qualified for the Open. Two-time John Deere champion Jordan Spieth announced last week that he would skip the tournament to get a head start on his preparation for Royal Birkdale.
TPC Deere Run is a par 71 measuring 7,268 yards, and it's an easy track. The winner likely is going to finish at least 20-under par as it has happened in seven of the past eight years. One of the 59s in a Tour event was shot here in 2010 by Paul Goydos. Steve Stricker holds the 72-hole scoring record of 258 also in 2010. He won the tournament from 2009-11, the last player to win the same event three years in a row.
The defending champion is Ryan Moore. He finished at 22-under 262 at TPC Deere Run, making only one bogey in 72 holes. Ben Martin finished second two shots back. The victory was Moore's fifth career PGA Tour title and his first since the 2014 CIMB Classic. He hasn't won since.
Golf Odds: John Deere Classic Favorites
I'm fairly certain this is the first time that Daniel Berger has been the Bovada favorite for a tournament as he's +1200. Nothing against Berger as he's having a fine season. He has a win and runner-up in his past three tournaments. It's just that he has never played here.
Brian Harman and Charley Hoffman are each +1600. Harman won the event in 2014 but hasn't had a Top 20 here in the past two years. He was a co-runner-up at the U.S. Open. Hoffman missed the cut his past two trips here but enters off back-to-back Top 10s.
Danny Lee and Kevin Kisner are each +1800. Lee was third here in 2015 and comes off a ninth last week. Kisner has no Top 10s in four trips here and missed the cut last week.
Golf Odds: John Deere Classic Picks
For a Top 10, I like Hoffman (+175) Moore (+200) and Zach Johnson (+200). Head-to-head, go Kevin Na (-130) over Ben Martin (even), Johnson (-125) over Jamie Lovemark (-105), Kyle Stanley (-125) over Stricker (-105), Kisner (-115) over Lee (-115), Moore (-125) over Kevin Streelman (-105), and Berger (-130) over Harman (even).
I was hoping for a prop that included Johnson and another player or two against the field, but none yet. He is from this area and a member of the tournament board. He has a win, three seconds and two thirds at what is essentially his event. The reason he's not among the favorites at +2200 is because Johnson isn't having a good year with just four Top 25s and five missed cuts in 16 events. He's still my pick here.
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