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John Deere Classic Preview: Ready to Mow the Field?

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

This just in: the tournament at which Tiger Woods barely made the cut and struggled all the way to the finish has a winner. My sources have informed me that Justin Rose was victorious late Sunday afternoon, but, unfortunately, with all the Tiger Woods coverage, I've been unable to confirm this result. One would think the overabundance of coverage on the state of Tiger's game is getting a little tired, but apparently the masses crave it. For those who have followed the game the last 10-15 years, we are well aware that Tiger, as good as he's been, has suffered through "slumps" before. Sure, this isn't exactly the same as his previous two "slumps," but let's keep in mind that he has recorded two top-5s in the majors this season, and St. Andrews is right around the corner. The reports of his demise may in fact be greatly exaggerated. As for Justin Rose, the reported win last Sunday would have been his second in three starts, not to mention he was the 54-hole leader in the only start he didn't win. If this is true, we may be witnessing the young man's coming out party. Stay tuned, I will keep you posted as soon as I have confirmation.

What the AT&T National means:

Justin Rose: A win followed by a brutal collapse, followed by a great recovery. Not many players on the PGA TOUR could have responded so quickly after such a disappointing loss. Rose looks like he's got it figured out, just in time for the British Open. This could get interesting.

Ryan Moore: Moore is one of the few young guns yet to join the victory party this season, but if he plays like he did last week, it won't be long before he hoists a trophy.

Vijay Singh: Another solid outing from Singh last week. At this point, I would be surprised if he doesn't find a win before the season is over.

This week: John Deere Classic

Last Year: Steve Stricker shot a final-round 64 on his way to a three-stroke victory over Zach Johnson.

Players to Consider:

  1. Steve Stricker

    Defending champ, best player in the field, midwest kid - what's not to like? So he hasn't played well lately, that doesn't seem to matter much this season.

  2. Zach Johnson

    Until last season, Johnson had struggled mightily at this event. Perhaps the pressure of playing so close to home was too much, or too awkward, or too something. Whatever the case, with his runner-up performance last year, I think it's safe to say he's figured it out.

  3. Jason Day

    Day finished T15 here last year, and I dare say he's a much better player than he was just 12 months ago. Day could easily pull a Rose this week and pick up win No. 2.

  4. Chad Campbell

    In years past, Campbell was playing so well that he didn't bother stopping here, but recently he's needed the earnings to boost his status. The past two years he's placed inside the top-15 and should do so again this year.

  5. Tim Clark

    I'm a little surprised Clark is playing here this week, but his track record at the John Deere has shown that he takes it seriously when he's here.

Players to Avoid:

  1. Bubba Watson

    With a freshly earned trip to St. Andrews on the horizon, it seems strange that Watson is playing here this week. Whatever the reason for his entry, don't expect a good effort this week.

  2. Jeff Quinney

    There was a time when Quinney only struggled away from the West Coast, now it seems he can't play well anywhere. Quinney has yet to make a cut at this event.

  3. Brad Faxon

    Faxon is desperately trying to hand onto his card for next season, but his game is too far gone. Faxon failed to make the cut here last year in his only attempt at this event.

  4. John Senden
    Senden won here in 2006, but since then he's missed two cuts and finished T66. Add to that his form coming in, and it's easy to pass on Senden this week.

  5. Bob Estes

    Estes played well here - in the early 90s. Since then, he's done little to nothing at this event. He returned to the Deere after a long absence last year only to finish T66.

Yahoo! Fantasy Golf:

This week: John Deere Classic

Group A

  1. Steve Stricker
  2. Zach Johnson

Unfortunately, players one, two and three are all in Group A this week, so Jason Day is the odd man out. There's no reason that Stricker and Johnson should finish outside the top-10 this week.

Group B

  1. K.J. Choi
  2. Chad Campbell
  3. Aaron Baddeley
  4. Kevin Streelman

Somewhat of a mishmash in Group B this week. Choi is on the roster for name only. I am not sure how committed he is to this event with the Open on the horizon, but if he shows up, he'll finish in the top 5. Campbell and Baddeley have made a living of falling below expectations, but at this event, they usually play well. Streelman could also be lumped in with Campbell and Baddeley, but he's yet to visit the winner's circle on the PGA TOUR, so he's in his own category. Streelman played well here last year and this might be the place where he finds his top form once again.

Group C

  1. Tim Clark
  2. Rickie Fowler

Whatever the reason, Clark is in the field this week, so I am assuming he'll bring his game. Even if he doesn't bring his best, he could still make it to the weekend. Fowler should be licking his chops heading into this week. There are only a few names in the field that he needs to worry about and this could be the spot where he picks up win No. 1.

Starters Round One

  1. Steve Stricker
  2. Chad Campbell
  3. Aaron Baddeley
  4. Tim Clark

There's not a whole lot of rhyme or reason to the starting line-up this week. These lower-tier events are often hard to predict as you can't be sure who's going to show up. I tried to load up my roster with players who take this event seriously, but as for the best ones to start right away - it's hard to tell. Stricker is the defending champ and has struggled a bit recently, so he'll use this event to get back on track. Campbell and Baddeley not only want to be here, they need to be - neither has great standing on the money list. Clark appears committed to this event, and for some reason I trust him, so he'll get the first-round start.

Round Two and Going Forward:

If all goes as planned, Stricker and Johnson will both be in the hunt this week, so I'll have to get Johnson a start early on. Look for that start to come Friday. After that, it's a toss-up. Stricker has won here before, and Johnson has not, so Stricker gets the Sunday edge. I'm hoping Choi shows up in Group B. If he does, that will open up my options as I'm not sure I want to go the distance with Baddeley and Campbell. Streelman is likely the last one in the starting line-up this week. I'll have to see a couple good rounds before he gets a start. Clark has a pretty strong hold on the starting spot in Group C, but if he fades early for some reason, I'll get Fowler in ASAP. Fowler is a boom or bust player this week. He'll either fizzle before the weekend or make a strong run at the win.

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