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John Deere Classic Preview: What Could Go Wrong?

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.

Have you ever heard a stat that just stopped you in your tracks? It's rare, but it happens to me every now and then, and it happened last weekend. In fact, I'm still trying to reconcile the fact that Angel Cabrera, he of the Masters and U.S. Open fame had only two victories on the PGA Tour entering last week's Greenbrier Classic.

That's right, the man who has two major championships on U.S. soil had no other victories to speak of stateside, until Sunday. I think the shock of that stat plays to our over-inflated importance that we put on majors. Yes, the majors are the most important events on the calendar each year, but winning one or two should not put a golfer on a pedestal above those who have shown consistent success on the PGA Tour over many years.

Nonetheless, that is the case, which is why it was such a shock to hear that Angel Cabrera, "El Pato", the fiery Argentinian, had only those two major wins on his PGA Tour resume. In his defense, Cabrera has spent the majority of his career playing overseas, but he's still had plenty of chances to win on the PGA Tour, as well. It just so happens that he was unable to seal the deal outside of a major until last weekend.

In a world where stats and numbers are flying at us from every angle, it's nice to know that some things can still surprise us. But if you are hoping for a surprise next week at the Open Championship, well that's a different story. We as a group are much too focused on who hasn't won a major, and unfortunately when the announcers mention those names early next week, none will come as a surprise.

This week:
John Deere Classic - TPC Deere Run, Silvis, Ill.

Last Year:
Jordan Spieth shot a final-round 65 on his way to a playoff victory over Zach Johnson and David Hearn.


Jordan Spieth

Seems easy enough. One of the biggest names in the field, defending champ, near the top of his game. What could go wrong? The only possible reason for a poor performance this week would be a look ahead to the Open next week, but Spieth doesn't strike me as a guy with focus issues.

Zach Johnson

Johnson and Spieth are 1 and 1a, respectively, this week. Johnson has a longer, more impressive track record, but I dare say that Spieth is the better player now.
That said, Johnson has finished in the top 3 here in four of his last five visits.

Kevin Streelman

Only a couple weeks removed from his victory at the Travelers Championship, Streelman has his work cut out for him if he wants to best Spieth and Johnson this week. Streelman's track record here is solid, and he won't be intimidated by the bigger names in the field this week.

Steve Stricker

Stricker has owned this event. He won here three consecutive years, but it's tough to tell where his game is now. Stricker worked the shortened schedule last season to perfection, but he hasn't had nearly as much luck this season. Perhaps a trip back to the John Deere Classic will kickstart his season.

Billy Hurley III

Final-round meltdown at the Greenbrier aside, Hurley's game appears to be in a good place. He's also shown well here before as he earned a top-10 at this event in 2012. Hopefully, he learned something from last week's outing and closes with more efficiency this week.


David Duval

I know, I know, why would anyone consider using Duval? Well, this is the John Deere and considering the field is pretty light this week, some people might think about taking a chance this week. I would suggest finding your sleepers elsewhere as Duval has astoundingly missed the cut here six consecutive times.

D.A. Points

Points got off to a great start last week at the Greenbrier with an opening 65, but his game fell apart after that round, and his prospects this week don't look much better. Points has missed seven of his past eight cuts here, likely eight of nine come Friday afternoon.

Jonathan Byrd

Byrd won this event in 2007, but, much like Byrd's entire career, he's seen plenty of ups and downs at the John Deere. If his game were in better shape coming in, he might be on the Consider List this week, but since it's not in great shape, he lands here this week.

Ryan Moore

Moore has a strong enough track record here to be considered this week, but when put up against the other big names in the field, his record at the John Deere doesn't look quite as stellar. [side note: due to lack of available talent in Group A of the Yahoo game this week, I am forced to select Moore for that particular format.]

Charles Howell III

Howell III has a decent track record here, but again, there are simply too many good options this week to consider someone like Howell III, who's not even playing that well now.


Last week:
Nick Watney (MC) - $0; Season - $3,073,207

This week:
Kevin Streelman - Like just about everyone out there, I'm unable to use Spieth, Zach or Stricker this week, so the next best option appears to be Streelman who was lights-out when we last saw him a couple weeks back.


Rank: 24,295

This Week:

Group A:
Ryan Moore, Daniel Summerhays

Group B:
Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker, Kevin Streelman

Group C:
John Senden, Billy Hurley III


Last week:
Brendon de Jonge (T64); Streak - 4

This week:
Kevin Streelman - Might as well double-up this week as Streelman appears to be a lock to not only make the cut, but the top-20 as well. Let's just hope he's not peeking ahead.