John Deere Classic Loses Players, Stricker Gains Odds

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John Deere looses players, Stricker gains odds
The John Deere Classic celebrates its 40th anniversary this week, but many big names have refused the invitation to the event. With the Open Championship on deck next week, the PGA Tour event is losing players as golfers stay home to rest or head to Europe for practice rounds.
Due to the significant travel time, players attending the British Open don’t usually play during the week beforehand. The winner of the John Deere Classic will also receive a berth at the Open, if they are not already exempt from it.
This is the 12th year that the competition is held at the TCP Deere Run and the course is one of the easiest on the PGA Tour schedule. Last year the course was ranked 43 out of 54 courses on difficulty. The reason behind this is the course is not lengthy and has only three water hazards. Since its inception in 2000 the course has only added 75 yards.
The lack of high-profile golfers who are headed for Europe also means the field is lighter, and old favourites have better odds.
This year the competition will only see three players ranked in the Top 20 of the OWGR and seven from the Top 50. Leading the group with +1500 points is defending champion Steve Stricker. Stricker won with three strokes over Zach Johnson, who will also be in attendance this year, Brandt Snedeker and Bret Quigley.
Stricker has suffered from a chest injury this year. The pain has been altering his swing and has caused him to pull out of several competitions this year. He was able to complete the US Open, but took a two-week break after to make sure he wasn’t overdoing things. Stricker said the injury is the SC joint where the clavicle and sternum meet.
Stricker isn’t letting the injury get him down.
“I appreciate the opportunities that I have had and I don’t take anything for granted . . .Especially, in the game of golf, because it’s a fleeting game, and you just never know what’s around the next corner, the next hole, whatever. It just great to be back out here, playing and playing well.”
Stricker, 43, is currently ranked as the world’s No. 4 golfer. He is known for his simple strokes and exceptional putting but has already refused playing at the Open Championship at St Andrews. If he wins the tournament he may change his mind, but likely the berth will be passed on to the runner up.
His injury is a factor in part, but Stricker believes a win on US soil is better for his career at this juncture.  He is definitely a heavy favourite, but his injury has slowed him down considerably. This year he’s made 15 straight cuts, ten of them this season.
Stricker’s father in-law and former University of Wisconsin golf coach holds the defending champ in high regards:
“He hits the ball as good as anybody. But he plays better than anybody,” 65-year-old Denis Tiziani said. If Stricker plays the John Deere Classic the way he has been playing this past week “he’ll win” affirms Tiziani.
Striker’s biggest competition if Kenny Perry and Zach Johnson. Perry has +2500 points and has won on the course before.  Johnson got close to victory at the TCP last year when he placed second, so he will be gunning hard to take the title from Stricker this year.
Johnson won the 2007 Masters, and is happy to be back in the small town for the tournament:
“It’s like going to a nice restaurant, you just never get a bad bite...That’s kind of the way I feel about this place.”
Johnson isn’t intimidated by Stricker, or even Perry.
“Those guys, their resumes are deeper than mine. But that comes with the territory, that’s fine. I love it. There’s nothing I don’t like about this tournament.”
We’ll see if he feels the same way after the tournament concludes.



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