Expert picks provided by Buzz Fantasy Golf Expert, Jarod Kieler
Follow Jarod on Twitter: @Jkieler1010
Last week at the Greenbrier Classic, Danny Lee outlasted David Hearn, Kevin Kisner, and Robert Streb in an exciting four man playoff. Lee, along with Hearn, James Hahn, and Greg Owen, all punched their tickets to the Open Championship in two weeks. This week at the John Deere Classic, one more spot will be available as a player in the top-5 plus ties (that is not already in the field) will get an invite. TPC Deere Run, located in Silvis, Illinois, has hosted this event since 2000. Jordan Spieth, who picked up his first PGA Tour victory here in 2013, will once again return as the top player in the field. Outside of Spieth, the top attractions this week include local favorites; Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker, and Jerry Kelly. Last year, Brian Harman posted 22 under par and defeated Zach Johnson by one stroke.
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1) Zach Johnson (2) – ZJ has top-20 finishes in eight of his past ten events. In his most recent start, Johnson finished solo 6th at the Travelers Championship. The Iowa native also has an incredible track record at his home event. Johnson has finished inside the top-3 in five of his last six appearances. Johnson’s lone victory came in 2012.
2) Jordan Spieth (5) – I was shocked to see that Spieth was playing this week. He won this event in 2013, but I thought he would he would skip this year in order to prepare for the Open Championship and a possible Spieth Slam. I can only use Spieth three more times and he scares me a bit this week, but in a field with limited star power, I cannot skip over the #2 player in the world.
1) Brian Harman (1) – Although he has three missed cuts in the same time span, Harman has top-10 finishes in three of his past seven starts. Two weeks ago at the Travelers Championship, Harman finished solo third. In three career trips to TPC Deere Run, Harman has twice finished inside the top-20. Last year, Harman picked up his first career PGA Tour victory.
2) Jerry Kelly (2) – After five straight top-30 finishes, Kelly has missed the cut in each of his last two starts. However, I cannot ignore the Wisconsin native’s track record at TPC Deere Run. In nine career trips, Kelly has three top-10 finishes, including the last two years. Kelly tied for 4th in 2013 and shared 3rd last year.
1) Kevin Kisner (3) – At some point, everything is going to fall into place for Kisner. In his last seven starts, Kisner has five top-12 finishes, including three playoff defeats. Last week at the Greenbrier Classic, Kisner missed a birdie putt on the 72nd hole that would have given him the victory. Last year at the John Deere Classic, Kisner finished in a tie for 20th.
2) Robert Streb (0) – Like Kisner, Streb bowed out on the first playoff hole last week at the Greenbrier Classic. What made Streb’s performance so impressive is that he broke his putter on the ninth hole and birdied five of his last nine holes putting with a wedge. Streb has now recorded top-20 finishes in four of his past five events. In two career trips to the John Deere Classic, Streb T22 in 2013 and T37 last year.
Other Golfers Considered:
Steve Stricker (Tier A): I don’t like the way Stricker’s game has been trending, but it’s impossible to ignore his track record at TPC Deere Run. Stricker has finished inside the top-11 in each of his last six appearances. Stricker won this event in 2009, 2010, and 2011.
Tim Clark (Tier B): Clark would be a risky play this week as he missed the cut in his first start back from an elbow injury. However, Clark has three top ten-finishes in five career starts at TPC Deere Rune. Clark finished runner-up in 2007, tied for 7th in 2010, and shared 5th last year.
Justin Thomas (Tier C): Thomas is probably going to win on the PGA Tour soon, but he has to avoid blowing up like he did at last week’s Greenbrier Classic. Thomas took the lead on Sunday, but four putted from 14 feet on Hole 10 and then quadrupled Hole 16 to fall all the way to 54th. Thomas is still looking to join the field at the Open Championship so it will be interesting to see how he bounces back.