By Brandon Raper @Brandon__Raper on July 10, 2014
TPC Deere Run is host of the John Deere Classic, the last PGA Tour stop before the Open Championship. Jordan Spieth returns to the site of his breakthrough 2013 victory, and a host of stars are out looking to stake their own claim to glory.
If you like shootout golf, you're in for a treat this week, as birdies will be flying. If you can focus, keep your eye on the following five players as the week rolls on.
English seemed to get his groove back at the Travelers Championship, earning a tie for seventh and his first top-ten since February. The former Georgia Bulldog finished T-15 in his first trip to TPC Deere Run in 2012, and still ranks ninth on Tour in birdie average. He's got everything it takes to put up birdies in bunches, which is the key to success this week.
Moore, like English, was an early-season winner who went through some down times over the last few months. Also in common with English is the fact that Moore seems to be back on the upswing following a strong Travelers performance. Moore ranks in the top 10 on Tour in birdie-or-better conversion on both par-3s and par-4s.
A run of former champions begins with Zach Johnson, the 2012 winner. If you just look at Johnson's recent results, it's hard to pick him here, but he's just been far too consistent at TPC Deere Run over the last several years (four top-three finishes in five years) to ignore. He's one of the guys who pretty much owns this course, and that's good enough to crack my rankings.
Here are Stricker's results since 2009 at the John Deere Classic: win ('09), win ('10), win ('11), T5 ('12), T10 ('13). There aren't many "sure things" in golf, but it's starting to look more and more like Steve Stricker at TPC Deere Run is getting there.
No, he doesn't play much anymore, but does it matter? It's only a few hours drive from his Wisconsin home, and his confidence has to be through the roof here.
A little quick math for you: seven top-25 finishes in his last eight starts, plus a return to the site of his first PGA Tour win, plus another major on the horizon. Do you think Spieth might be a little amped up to go low this week in Illinois?
Ranked eighth in adjusted scoring average and birdie-or-better conversion, eighth in scrambling, and 24th in strokes gained putting. He doesn't have to hit every fairway, Spieth will find a way to win.
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