John Deer Classic Preview:
Course: TPC Deere Run, Silvis, Illinois
Overshadowed by next week’s Open Championship at Carnoustie, The John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run plays host this week on the moving circus we call the PGA Tour. This event is notorious for players breaking thru and getting their first win. Bryson DeChambeau, in the field this week, did so last year and looks to make a title defense. DeChambeau won in dramatic fashion with a final round 65, leading to a one-shot victory over Patrick Rogers.
There are five past champions in the field this week including the three-peat king himself, Steve Stricker, 2016 Champion Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, who hoisted the trophy in 2012, and Johnathon Byrd who won before they made Dri-Fit golf apparel. Interesting crew of past champions but I’d bet on the field this week. With the final spot into The Open up for grabs, everyone is going to be cutting loose to try and make the field. There are a number of guys I’ll have an eye on this week. First off is the young stud Juaquin Niemann who just secured his tour card for next season with another Top 10 finish, finishing T5 at the Greenbrier. I see him continuing his hot play and making another run at the title this week. Two guys that played well for three rounds at the National but dropped off on the final day amidst the onslaught by Molinari, are Zach Blair and Stephen Jaeger. ZB and Stephen both big NLU guys have had good showings lately and need to play good down the stretch to secure a spot in the Top 125. Kelly Craft couldn’t get it going on the weekend to hold of Kevin Naaa Naaa Na NaNaNa Naa but finished solo 2nd in NC. Look for him get after it again this week. Lastly my dark horse, who until he played with Big Cat at the Quicken might as well have been a Dominos delivery driver, is Bronson Burgoon. Part of me just wants to hear “GOOOOONNNNNNNN” chants whenever he sinks a putt and the other part thinks he’s actually got some form right now. Who knows how much longer we are going to hear “Kuuuccchh” echoing across the golf course, he seems to be the rightful heir to that throne.
Winner: Juaquin Niemann
ALL DAY GOLF! The stars have aligned, the Scottish Open with a stacked field and a decent PGA Tour event in the same week. We’ve got golf from 12:30 am to 6pm, four straight days. Sounds like heaven. With the Irish Open last week and the Scottish this week you have seen a number of the big dogs on the PGA hop across the pond to play one or both of these events to tune up for The Open. Rickie, Phil, Hideki, Rose, Kuchar, Bello, Oosthuizen, Fat Pat, Hoffman, and List just to name a few. Rafa goes on the title defense with Rickie winning the event in 2016. If you read this blog after today, you will learn that behind El Tigre, Rickie is probably my favorite golfer. Ever since Sergio won the masters a year ago eople have been saying Rickie is now the best player without a major. I tend to agree, along with the likes of Kuchar, Stricker, Westwood, and Matsuyama, as it seems he has been on tour for years. My natural instinct is to pull for Rickie this week, but it’s almost guaranteed that if he were to win, there is no way he takes home the Claret Jug. I expect a T7 from Rickie giving him the momentum he needs to propel him and his push cart into the winners circle next week.
The New Phil:
Get a grip Phil. You’ve been playing this game for over 40 years and all of a sudden you are trying to make your own rules? First, hitting a moving ball at Shinnie and now improving your line by knocking down the fescue on the tee box. Phil tells the rules official he was trying to hit a low shot off the tee and patted the grass down at the front of the box. The rules official takes a pause probably thinking, “Is he really asking me this shit right now? Of course it’s a penalty!” and responds with “We’ll have to get the committee to take a look at it.” Big Foot is later informed he has been assessed a 2-stroke penalty for this. Again, if you choose to read this after today, you will learn that Phil is one of my least favorite golfers on tour, closely behind Ian Poulter and Patrick Reed. There’s more where that came from.
Tiger vs. Phil: Tiger’s easiest pay day:
The news of a Tiger vs. Phil head to head match up was announced Monday morning and set the golf world ablaze. The Prize, a cool $10 Million. Look, people are going to start saying how Phil has a win this year at the WGC and Tiger doesn’t have one, but if you take that out of the equation, Tiger is right there with him considering lack of events played. Tiger is 9/11 on cuts made, has 7 Top 25’s, 3 Top 10’s including a T4 at the National and a T2 back at the Valspar. Phil has had a great year for his age and no doubt still has a lot of game but here’s the thing, NONE OF THAT MATTERS. Tiger has eaten Phil’s lunch over and over again thru the years. We all know the stats. 79 to 43 ring a bell. Regardless, if this is an 18-hole, match play, winner take all round, Tiger opens up as a -375 favorite in Vegas and go ahead and give me the prop bet for a win by greater than 3&2. Tiger being aggressive vs Phil being aggressive is like Brock Lesner vs. Jerry Lawler. I’m taking Lesner in 5.3 seconds.
2019 PGA Tour Schedule Released:
All the talk and spec about the 2019 schedule is over. The buzz around the Players moving back to March and the PGA Championship started back in the fall and was made official yesterday with the release. The link below will take you to the full schedule but I’ll touch on some of the highlights.
WGC- FedEx St. Jude Invitational replaces the FedEx St. Jude Classic and moves to July 22-28. This event has improved every time FedEx shells out more cash to sponsor the Cup and playoffs. This first happened back in 2007 when they bargained to move the event to the week before the US Open. The goal was to attract players like Phil and DJ who like to play an event the week before a major. So, with the new 10-year commitment coming you knew Mike Glenn and Freddie were going to have something up their sleeve. John Feinstein reported rumblings back in November of the Bridgestone moving to Memphis after the deal was done and here we are now. This will be great for my hometown/current residence. Memphis is a golf town and has really seen an economic boom in growth over the last few years. St. Jude also benefits greatly from this event, which does so much for the patients and the community.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational now sits the week before The Players as apart of the famous “Florida Swing” Obviously, this event means a great deal to the entire golf world due to the impact Mr. Palmer had on the game. A large number of players have their home bases set up in this area of Florida, allowing them to stay at home, cutting down on travel during this stretch. The AP garners a large field every year and will be a good tune up before the guys tee it up at Sawgrass in March.
The Valspar Championship has become the red headed step child of the Florida Swing. After gaining some traction with Tiger’s return to Innisbrook for the first time in nearly 20 years it seems the event has taken a step back. Its sandwiched between The Players and WGC Match Play in Austin making it an garunteed rest week for the big guns who will be headed, Austin Country Club the following week.
The RBC Canadian Open has never been a blockbuster event but was a nice change of pace in the heat of July prior to the playoffs. The people are friendly and it’s not 105 degrees and 80% humidity. Now moving up into June and the week before the US Open (taking the spot of the FedEx St. Jude) you are going to see a weaker field than Memphis had. Jack’s tournament is the week before and it seems natural that guys like Phil and DJ are going to elect to head out to NoCal and get some extra work in prior to Pebble Beach.
Overall the condensed schedule is better all around. There are some big European Tour Events stacked in before the Open and after the FedEx playoffs. Most importantly the playoffs end the week before College Football starts. Also, I like Liberty National sneaking in to grab the Northern Trust. Get the rowdy NYC golf fans out on the course to give the pro’s hell.
My Golf This Week
Last Round: Links of Galloway, Memphis, TN
Par 70, 5400 Yards, Municipal Course in East Memphis.
Walked the back nine after work, shooting a +1 36. Nothing worse than starting a round on a par 3. Still getting loose after a day at the office, I blade a 9 iron about 30 yds over the green behind a pine tree on the 14th hole. My pitch doesn’t make it to the green. I play the Halifax Hop and knock in the bogey putt. Par’s on 11 and 12 leads me to the drivable par 4 13th. I do just that hitting my drive to about 25 feet where I would lip my eagle putt out and tap in for Birdie. Par on the dog leg Par 4 14th brings up the short Par 5 15th. This is my favorite stretch on the course, 15-18 consists of a 2 shot par 5, a par 3 with a large elevation change, a short par 4 guarded by trees on the right and OB on the left and the home hole with the road along the left side that makes every pull hitter think twice. A solid drive leaves me about 175 into the green which I miss after a tugged 7 iron. With a long chip left, I take my 50 degree and play the 2 hop and check shot. The blind squirrel found the nut at the bottom of the cup that said eagle on it. I take par on the 16th after a good tee shot, I love playing on aerated greens. Instead of hitting 3 wood, I take driver and block it into the group of oak trees on the right. I look for 5 minutes finding 6 golf balls, 3 of which are Titleist but none of them are mine. I play a lost ball and make double on the hole putting me at E going into 18. Stepping up to the tee on 18 all I’m thinking is hit a high fade and go make birdie. Yea…that always works. I hit a worm burner about 100 yards, block a 4 iron, chip out of the pine straw and 2 putts for bogey. What could have easily been -2 became +1 really quick. I’ll stick to my day job…
Next week we will recap the JDC and Scottish Open and have an Open Championship preview. Hit them straight and watch out for Tight Lies.