PGA TourTournament Previews

2015 John Deere Classic Preview

Tron speaks for all of us in that this is one of our favorite tournaments of the year. Young guys trying to YOTTO amongst the old dudes who own this place (i.e. Stricker/ZJ), a super easy course which yields really low scores, and a healthy smattering of no-namers and randos to make for some especially pithy jokes and ultra rich side-conversations throughout the weekend. But it goes deeper than that. The four of us are proud of our midwest ties and enjoy pimping the heartland. The Quad Cities stop has a great history (Payne Stewart won the 1982 edition of the Miller High Life QCO for his first Tour victory; David Toms captured his first title here in 1997; and of course Spieth a couple years ago at the age of 19), and boasts some of the best community support on the entire tour, along with a great corporate sponsorship situation. In short, it represents a lot of what’s right with the tour and doesn’t get enough recognition for that.

Course

TPC Deere Run

A certified Audubon bird sanctuary!

Situated against the Rock River in Silvis, Illinois (one of the four quad cities), birds have been getting poached here since 2000 at a fully-explicable clip.

Old woman kills birds

Seriously, since the course moved to this farmland locale in the middle of nowhere, the ‘worst’ winning score is -16, with Steve Stricker setting the scoring record in 2010 at -26. The course is so easy that Stricker shot 60 on Thursday that year…. and wasn’t the low score of the day. Seriously. He was -11 after day one, and not leading the tournament. Paul Goydos shot an opening round 59, finished at -24, and didn’t win the tournament.

The D.A. Weibring design is less than spectacular both visually, and from a challenge perspective. The wide, rolling fairways give the players a green light to fire away with the driver, and the only par 4’s with any real teeth are the 9th (503 yards), the 15th (484 yards), and the 18th (476 yards, with a tough dogleg, and a green guarded by water). Despite the length of these holes, you’ll still see the longer hitters take 3 wood on them due to the firmness of the fairways. Soly played the course a few years ago, and noted that it’s an easy course even for an amateur.

Vibe

The Quad Cities are located at the junction of the Mississippi and Rock Rivers, and used to serve as a major port in the mid 19th century during the industrial revolution. Beginning in the late 1970’s, economic conditions forced major industrial restructuring, which led to many companies relocating and scaling back their operations along these rivers. In recent years, significant progress has been made by the city governments to redevelop the region. Despite this, it’s hard not to feel like you’re in a time capsule looking back at what was once such a proud symbol of American capitalism, especially in and around Rock Island.

Set against the Illinois/Iowa border, this tournament is truly the most midwestern event ever.  It’s basically a Big Ten clash between Illinois and Iowa fans, but for once they’re rooting for bosses of their sport rather than an Illini-Hawkeye Big Ten pillow fight on the gridiron. Honestly, the people drive hours to root for one of two guys. Those in orange pull for Illinois grad and three time champion Steve Stricker, and those in black and yellow are pulling for Wiz Khalifa Zach Johnson. In true midwestern fashion, just about every fan there thinks they know Strick and ZJ as personal friends, just because they’re wearing their school colors or their uncle’s best buddy’s son’s wife is somehow connected. You’ll hear plenty of first name basis yells on the broadcast for these two players from the masses who treat this event like it’s a family reunion.

It’s impossible to discuss the merits of the Quad Cities without referencing their favorite sons, hailing from Davenport, Iowa:

Last Year

jd prior

Brian Harman, another of the many thoroughbreds from UGA Racing Stables, broke through last year for his first career PGA Tour win.  Again, I’ll throw it to TronCarter for his thoughts:

harman

 Fantasy/Gambling Insights

(all lines courtesy Ladbrokes.com, the Official Bookmaker of NoLayingUp.com)

Horses for Courses

*Little known fact– the term “horse for course” was coined specifically to describe the following two dudes:

Zach Johnson (10/1) – A win and three runner-ups over the last six years will get you certified horse status.

Steve Stricker (33/1) – Since going three-peat in 2009/10/11, he hasn’t finished worse than T11 in the last three years. Even semi-retired and lacking much form this year, he’s an obligation play.

Value Fliers

Tony Finau (40/1) – “Hit it again.”–Hans Gruber. Coming right back to the well here. His form is ON POINT (with Tom Ashbrook) as Tony hasn’t finished outside the top 25 in his last seven starts dating back to the Wells Fargo. His prodigious length could re-write scoring records if he’s clicking.

Scott Langley (66/1) – The Illinois grad is trending in the right direction with a T25 and T13 last two starts. Each week has included a third round clunker (73 and 74, respectively). If he can put together 4 rounds, he’s got enough to win.

George McNeill (66/1) – Pretty quietly having a good run of it over the last two years, as he was 46th in the FedEx last year, and currently sits 64th. Maybe the most anonymous American ranked in the top 100 of the OWGR? Anyway, outside an MC at the US Open, George is playing good golf with 5 top-25’s in nine starts since the start of April. Feels like the kind of profile who can and has won here.

The Fringe

  • JD Classic continuing to use its exemptions on top-ranked young players. This year it’s Bryson DeChambeau (NCAA Individual Champ from SMU), Lee McCoy (another Georgia Bulldog on his way), Brian Campbell (played at Illinois, finished T27 at US Open), and Patrick Rodgers (you should know who he is).
  • Louis Oosthuizen ain’t playing again this year, which is notable only because his two passions are John Deere tractors and farming. At this point I’m worried there’s some sort of rift in this love affair. He hasn’t cheated on Deere with Kubota has he?
  • Since 2008, tournament organizers have chartered a flight leaving Sunday evening and flying non-stop to Great Britain for Open Championship participants. Affectionately known as ‘Air Deere,’ it’s a 767 that has lured many players who otherwise would have skipped the event to come play the Quad Cities. Pretty cool to think the vast majority of guys are playing this week for a seat on that bird. Do you over-pack in advance on the off chance of winning, or ball out in the Old Course pro shop if need be? Latter, for sure.
  • We joke about a lot of things, but this ain’t one of them–John Huston needs to be formally involved in the proceedings this week. I’m thinking at least something of an honorary wedge shot to start the event a la Arnie, Jack and Gary at Augusta. The guy won seven times on the PGA Tour, only one of those with a score worse than 13-deep! This guy practically invented the bird sanctuary. Long past time to honor him.
  • Sadly, no Dick Mast on the list of alternates this week.

Enjoy the week and catch us on twitter during coverage @NoLayingUp.

About the Author

Perma-case of the yips inside 5 feet. Completely lose my swing at least once a year. No concept of what a good leave is. Harbor delusions of golf grandeur.

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