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Picks and Preview: The John Deere Classic

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A week away from the third major of the year, the PGA Tour rolls arrives at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill. Despite its positioning in the schedule, the event has had some distinguished victors. Most recently, Zach Johnson won the 2012 edition of the former Quad Cities Open.

It’s impossible to talk about the John Deere Classic without mentioning Steve Stricker, who has won the event three out of the last four years. The field also features nine players who have won on Tour this year and 10 major champions.

The course, which has recently been dealing with flood-like conditions, will certainly play soft this year. This stands in contrast to the firm conditions, which greeted players last year. Even with the faster conditions, TPC Deere Run was still only the 42nd most difficult course on tour in 2012.

Given the softer conditions this year, the 2013 edition will likely be a birdie-fest.

Here’s a look at who could enter the Open Championship on a winning streak.

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Steve Stricker: 13-2 odds

Strick has only played seven times on tour this year, but has managed to make this cut in all seven of those starts. Further, he’s finished inside the top 10 four times. He’s as precise with his approach shots as ever (second in greens in regulation) and his putting is, well, Stricker-ian: He’s 11th on Tour in strokes gained-putting, picking up .635 shots on the field each round with the flat stick.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the oddsmakers see Steve Stricker as the favorite this week, giving him a 13.33 percent chance of winning his fourth John Deere Classic in the past five years. The world’s best semi-retired golfer hasn’t played since the U.S. Open, where he tied for eighth. Despite his mini-meltdown on Sunday at the season’s second major, there’s no reason to assume that Stricker — who has been able to contend despite not playing much golf — will do anything other than win this week.

Zach Johnson: 14-1 odds

Last year’s winner, Zach Johnson, counts the John Deere Classic as his “fifth major.” The native Iowan has close ties to the Illinois event, even sitting on its Board of Directors. There won’t be a player in the gallery with more support than Zach Johnson this week. Although he missed the cut at the U.S. Open and barely made it to the weekend in his last start at the Travelers Championship, the extra motivation could be enough to notch Johnson a win this week.

Johnson, who enters the tournament with 16-straight rounds in the 60s at TPC Deere Run, putted at an otherworldly level last year. Although he could have kicked in his winning birdie putt on the second playoff hole en route to victory last year, he was deadly from all ranges with his signature SeeMore putter in hand, picking up in excess of eight strokes over his competitors on the greens.

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Keegan Bradley: 20-1 odds

Keegan Bradley hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship, where he finished tied for 18th. He also hasn’t played at the John Deere Classic before, and his decision to do so this year is interesting. However, after lackluster play at the Masters and a missed cut at the U.S. Open, playing the week before a major (albeit one across the pond and several time zones away) is worth a try.

Bradley is undoubtedly hungry for a second career major and angry that the Tour is taking his beloved belly putter away. The extra emotion might compel “Ryder Cup Keegan” to step forward this week and roll home putts with his signature wild-eyed determination. The St. John’s alum sits right behind Zach Johnson in the ranking of “those with the largest emotional investment” this week. Of course, Steve “Savage” Stricker may be emotionally invested too…but you’d never know.

Louis Oosthuizen: 20-1 odds

It hasn’t been good to be the king lately. King Louis has been plagued by a number of injuries thus far in 2013. However, with a 17th place finish at the Greenbrier last week, the South African has firmly declared that he’s feeling well enough to contend. Realistically, if he weren’t, he’d likely still be sitting on the bench ahead of the season’s third major. Thus, Oosthuizen’s presence in Illinois this week is a clear indicator that he feels he can win the tournament.

Oosthuizen, of course, famously bought himself some John Deere equipment after winning the Open Championship in 2010. If he wins this week, he’ll likely have a line on a bit more. Although he missed the cut here in 2011, Louis will have no problem finding Deere Run’s large and inviting greens. And even though he’s in the midst of an abysmal putting streak, Oosthuizen will have enough looks at birdie this week to have a great chance at riding off into the sunset on a shiny new John Deere tractor (that’s what should happen when you win, at least).

Boo+Weekley+Zurich+Classic+New+Orleans+Final+siHhnjWQTBGl

Boo Weekley: 50-1 odds

There would be something poetic about a Boo Weekley victory at a tournament sponsored by a farm equipment manufacturer. Boo, with his outsized Floridian rube personality, is one of the best ballstrikers on tour. He enters this week on the heels of a missed cut at the Greenbrier Classic. However, despite this fact and his missed cut at this tournament last year, Weekley has played well at TPC Deere Run in the past, even firing a second-round 63 at the course in 2010 en route to a top-25 finish.

With his confidence restored after his win at the Crowne Plaza Invitational earlier this year, Weekley could double his 2013 victory tally this week. One of the worst putters on tour, Boo will benefit from the soft and relatively straightforward greens of TPC Deere Run, and he’ll be able to make a lot of agressive runs at birdie this week.

*odds according to Bovada.com

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Photos from the 2024 PGA Championship

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GolfWRX is on site this week at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, for the PGA Championship.

While we see fewer equipment changes and new gear seeding at major championships, we get a look at custom gear and looks into the bags of players we rarely see, which is just as exciting. In the case of the PGA Championship, this means a look at the gear some of the PGA Professionals who qualified for the tournament will be gaming, and LIV players, such as Jon Rahm and Patrick Reed.

Check out links to all our albums from Valhalla below and check back throughout the week as we continue to update.

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Photos from the 2024 Wells Fargo Championship

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GolfWRX is live this week at the Wells Fargo Championship as a field of the world’s best golfers descend upon Charlotte, North Carolina, hoping to tame the beast that is Quail Hollow Club in this Signature Event — only Scottie Scheffler, who is home awaiting the birth of his first child, is absent.

From the grounds at Quail Hollow, we have our usual assortment of general galleries and WITBs — including a look at left-hander Akshay Bhatia’s setup. Among the pullout albums, we have a look inside Cobra’s impressive new tour truck for you to check out. Also featured is a special look at Quail Hollow king, Rory McIlroy.

Be sure to check back throughout the week as we add more galleries.

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See what GolfWRXers are saying about our Wells Fargo Championship photos in the forums.

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Photos from the 2024 CJ Cup Byron Nelson

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GolfWRX is on site this week in McKinney, Texas, at the 2024 CJ Cup Byron Nelson (FKA the AT&T Byron Nelson).

Last year at TPC Craig Ranch, Jason Day ended a five-year winless streak. J-Day is in the field again, as are Jordan Spieth, Tom Kim, and Will Zalatoris.

We have our usual assortment of general galleries, WITBs, and pullout albums for your perusal. As always, we’ll continue to add links to additional albums as they make their way to us from the Lone Star State.

Check out links to all our photos below.

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See what GolfWRXers are saying in the forums.

 

 

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