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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: John Deere Classic

The last events before THE OPEN tee off this week. Twofer Tuesday visits the last stateside event, the John Deere Classic.

Defending champion Michael Kim with John Deere trophy

The defending champion, Michael Kim, beat the field by eight strokes last year to get his first PGA Tour win. TPC Deere Run measures 7268 yards and plays to a par of 71, so it's far from the longest course the pros see each year. And the guys who win are usually not the longest hitters on Tour, as evidenced by the dominance of players like Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson.

However, TPC Deere Run doesn't exactly demand precision either. Kim ripped through the field by putting like a madman. Low scores are pretty common all through the field, every year.

And once you add in the upcoming major, it can be hard to pick a favorite with any certainty. (Of course, that's the same with most tournaments on Tour lately.)

So I find myself in an interesting spot, as I have seen no logical explanation for the seemingly random group of winners we've seen over the last few months. Nevertheless, I'll take another shot at it.
  • My Top10er is Collin Morikawa. I'm not at all sure he'll be able to close the deal this week, even though he played so well last week. How much did the comfort of playing with teammate Matthew Wolff help him on Sunday? I don't know. But the experience of being in the last group had to help him, and I really like the way he came back from that rough start in the final round.
  • And my winner -- I'm trying him once again -- is Viktor Hovland. Viktor's having to go through a learning curve, but I can't get away from the fact that he's been low am in two majors recently. In addition, he's posted T13 in his last two events and -- more importantly, I think -- his lowest rounds of the week have come on Sunday. I'm convinced he'll break through sooner rather than later, and TPC Deere Run is the kind of course that suits his game.
We seem to be in a streak of young winners right now. Perhaps the established pros are struggling to adjust their schedules to the new condensed major season while the youngsters don't know anything other than what they're seeing right now. Again, I think the Deere Classic is a perfect arena for this new run of players to break through.

GC's coverage starts Thursday at 4pm ET. PGA TOUR LIVE starts streaming at 8am ET.

In terms of THE OPEN, I think the Scottish Open will probably give us a better idea of who the Champion Golfer of the Year will be. But the Deere could help us identify the most likely of the new breed to contend in Ireland.

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