TOUR Revs Up for John Deere

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 9, 2007, 4:00 pm
2006 John Deere ClassicSILVIS, Ill. -- With the world's best golfers preparing for next week's third major, the British Open Championship, the PGA TOUR heads for its annual stop in Illinois for the John Deere Classic.
 
Talk about a place where people go for their first win. Seven of the previous 10 champions have claimed their first PGA TOUR crown at this event, which has been contested at the TPC Deere Run since 2001. Overall, 18 of the previous 35 winners picked up tour win No. 1 at this tournament.
 
Last year it was John Senden's turn. Senden got up and down from a greenside bunker on the 18th for par and the win. The par helped him fend off 2002 winner J.P. Hayes by one stroke. Hayes had a chance to grab the lead with an eagle on 17, but he could not convert and ended one back after a closing 65.
 
The last three winners -- Mark Hensby, Sean O'Hair and Senden -- all earned berths in the British Open with their wins, however Hensby declined the invitation.
 
There have been just six playoffs in the first 35 years of this event, but the 1981 playoff was an historic one. Dave Barr needed eight -- yes, eight -- extra holes to knock off Woody Blackburn to claim the title.
 
The only reason that playoff was possible was because Victor Regalado bogeyed the final two holes that create a five-way playoff with Barr, Blackburn, Regalado, Dan Halldorson and Frank Connor. The playoff featured two Americans (Blackburn and Connor), two Canadians (Halldorson and Barr) and a Mexican, Regalado.
 
Michelle Wie, who pulled out of this event last year during the second round because of heat exhaustion, withdrew from the event a month ago due to her wrist injury.
 
GOLF CHANNEL and CBS split coverage of the four rounds this week.
 
Next week is the season's third major, the British Open. Tiger Woods will defend his title at Carnoustie, while the remainder of the PGA TOUR will be at the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, where Corey Pavin won the title in '06.
 
Here are our Tour Trade 2 favorites this week, with a look at their past performances in Silvis, Ill. We also offer up a few more guys worth keeping an eye on at the John Deere Classic.
 
Zach Johnson
Starts: 5
Wins: 0
Top-10s: 0
Best finish: T20 (2004)
 
TRADE Talk: Johnson doesnt have a great record in this event, but being the reigning Masters champion, he has to be considered the overall tournament favorite. One potential problem for the major champion is the fact that this is considered his home event. This is as close as the PGA TOUR gets on an annual basis to his native Iowa, and given what hes accomplished this year, he might have plenty of distractions off the course. If he can keep his focus on it, however, he may come away with his third win of the season.
 
J.P. Hayes
Starts: 9
Wins: 1
Top-10s: 2
Best finish: Win (2002)
 
TRADE Talk: Hayes is one of only five past John Deere winners in the field this week. Many of the other champions either opted to skip this week or werent even eligible to compete without a sponsors exemption. Hayes captured this title in 2002 and is still seeking his first victory since then. He nearly got it a year ago at TPC Deere Run, shooting 65 in the final round to finish one shot back of John Senden.
 
Chris Riley
Starts: 6
Wins: 0
Top-10s: 3
Best finish: T2 (2003)
 
TRADE Talk: Despite not winning, Riley has had great success around TPC Deere Run. In a four-year run, from 2000-2003, he finished inside the top 5 on three occasions. The former Ryder Cup player has had some tough times over the last couple of years, but he might be back on track. Riley won on the Nationwide Tour opposite the U.S. Open, which should add to his confidence level this week.
 
John Senden
Starts: 5
Wins: 1
Top-10s: 1
Best finish: Win (2006)
 
TRADE Talk: Only David Frost, in 1992-93, has won this event in back-to-back years. Senden might not be a great candidate to repeat that feat, but seeing as hes one of only a handful of players in attendance this week who has actually won on this golf course, he has to be considered among the favorites. The Aussie has a couple of top-10s this year, with a tie for second in Tampa in March.
 
Carl Pettersson
Starts: 2
Wins: 0
Top-10s: 0
Best finish: T15 (2003)
 
TRADE Talk: Pettersson is affectionately known on TOUR as the Redneck Swede. That moniker alone makes him a viable contender this week at the John Deere. Pettersson started the year slowly with three missed cuts in his first four events, but has only missed one cut over his last 15 tournaments. He has bettered his results each of his last four events, earning a tie for 15th in his most recent start at the Travelers Championship.
 
Four more players to keep an eye on at TPC Deere Run:
 
Steve Marino:
Marino is a rookie on TOUR without a win, which means he would be a good candidate to get that maiden title here. Six of the last eight John Deere winners have been first-time TOUR champions. Marino has had a solid rookie season so far, collecting four top-10s and earning nearly $1 million.
 
Robert Garrigus:
Garrigus is another player one could easily image riding off on that big tractor into the sunset come Sunday. The once troubled player has his life, and his game, headed in the right direction. He was tied for third after 36 holes of last weeks AT&T National, before faltering into a tie for 30th.
 
Matt Kuchar:
Kuchar has played this event four times with mixed results. But he is coming here having rallied in Final Qualifying for a spot in next weeks Open Championship. A little confidence can go a long way, particularly in a week like this one.
 
Anthony Kim:
Kim is regarded as The Next Big Thing on TOUR. Hes just one breakthrough win from stardom, many think. Such a win could come this week against one of the weakest fields of the season.
 
Information from The Sports Network was used in this article.
 
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.